US and Pakistan do not seem to be getting any better in their relations. Their relations are now in a position from where it is too difficult for them to come back on track. Since the NATO attack on the Pakistan military check post till the recent reports of NATO's pact with the Central Asian countries to re-route their supplies, things are going from worse to worst.
Last month there were projections that both the countries may reach to some sort of agreement regarding the blockade of NATO supply route in Pakistan, but they have not turned into reality and now there would be much task to do if both the countries need to come closer.
Pakistan and US had both started as allies in the war against terrorism after the incident of 9/11, and now at the end of the war both of them are much apart from each other. The history of their companionship throughout this war has experienced various fluctuations.
They at one stance have stood beside each other as closest allies and at the very next stance the situation is quite the opposite. In the beginning of the war there was not much trouble and the confidence level between both the countries was exemplary, but now there seems to be no confidence at all. Though both the countries would be influenced by the deterioration of the relations, it would also affect Afghanistan.
Recently, the US drone attacks have been intensified by US in Pakistan. There are reports that on Monday June 04, 2012, US drone attack in North Waziristan might have targeted senior Al-Qaeda leader Abu Yahya al-Libi, in the Hesokhel village, near the Afghan border. Whether the report is true or not is yet to be verified but it is true that the intensification in the drone attacks is taken seriously by Pakistan.
Already, the public opinion in Pakistan has been very much critical of the drone attacks and many religious and political organizations have been pressuring the government to stop ban on the attacks completely. Pakistan Foreign Office in Islamabad called the US charge d'affaires Richard Hoagland and conveyed the message that Pakistani government has great concerns regarding the drone attacks.
The message also made it clear that such attacks were the violation of the sovereignty of Pakistan and the international law. It (statement) said, "The parliament has emphatically stated that they are unacceptable. Drone strikes represent a clear red-line for Pakistan."
Moreover, it also discussed the matter of seizure of unauthorized weapons from the US diplomats in Peshawar city of Pakistan. According to the news reports from Pakistan, six people including three US nationals were detained for carrying illegal arms in their vehicles. The police sources said that the weapons that were captured included 4 M4 assault rifles with 36 magazines and 4 pistols with 30 magazines. An US Embassy official, as a response of the detention was reported to have said, "These officials were returning from a visit to Malakand University where they were preparing for an English education event for underprivileged children. They had all proper permissions but were stopped when returning to Peshawar."
To show that there is not enough chance for the relations to get better, NATO, as hinted above, has signed an agreement with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan for a new land route to transport supplies to foreign troops. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said, "These agreements will give us a range of new options and the robust and flexible transport network we need." However, it must not be forgotten that this route would be more expansive and less convenient for the US, but the meetings with Pakistani authorities have not been able to reach any conclusion even after several months. Pakistan had demanded an apology from US for the incident which resulted in the death of 27 soldiers and high tax on NATO trucks, but they were not accepted by the US.
The basic issue between both the countries has been the diminishing level of confidence. In the latter half of the war against terrorism US has been more ambiguous about Pakistan's role in the war and have kept on demanding that Pakistan needs to do more to take serious actions against the terrorist networks in their side of border. It on many occasions has accused Pakistan's spy agency ISI for supporting the terrorists that operate in Afghanistan. After many incidents that occurred in different parts of Afghanistan mostly the capital Kabul, US, along with Afghan government, claimed the involvement of ISI.
Pakistan came under severe criticism mostly after the discovery of Osama bin Laden from the Pakistani city of Abbotabad. There are many US politicians and military personnel who believe that Pakistan has been playing a double game throughout the war. Pakistan on the other hand has kept on negating the claims. It has always claimed that it has carried out the possible measures and has vehemently countered the terrorists in the country. It has always mentioned the loss of lives of many military personnel and civilians in operations that are carried out against the terrorist networks. Moreover, it has kept on rejecting the support for the Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.
The deteriorating relation between the two countries is not a good sign for Afghanistan. Pakistan is already not in a very encouraging relation with Afghanistan. Recently, there have been claims by certain Afghan media outlets that Pakistan has been trying to influence the approval of the Afghan-US strategic partnership agreement through certain means. Pakistan is, no doubt, uneasy because of the presence of US in its immediate neighborhood and it sees the presence of permanent US bases that can operate drones within Pakistan as a threat to its sovereignty.
The deterioration in the US-Pak relations will definitely influence the Af-Pak relations. Pakistan shares a lengthy border with Afghanistan; along both sides of the border the intricate networks of terrorists are spread. Both need to fight in close collaboration with each other to reach to a decisive end to uproot these networks and guarantee security in their countries.
Dilawar Sherzai is the permanent writer of the Daily outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Daily Outlook, 6 June 2012