A Tribute to ADMIRAL MULLEN on Retirement:
By Hamid Waheed
On September 22, did any one noticed WHAT Media missed of Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, when he testified before Congress that the Pakistani Army is actively supporting the Haqqani network and other anti-U.S. terrorist groups. Media did high light the comments, along with similar charges by other U.S. officials, which raised tensions between the United States and Pakistan to their highest level in recent years. Political and Military leadership of Pakistan was geared up to put up a response and a resolution was passed. We all approve of this step. While virtually all of the press reports on Admiral Mullen’s testimony focused on his charges, it is interesting to look at what else he said. In stressing the need to stay engaged with Pakistan, he acknowledged the difficulties the country has had in recent years. These include Mass killings caused by extremist groups, weak government institutions, massive unemployment, a failing economy, recent devastating floods, and mayhem in its largest city resulting from gang wars and ethnic and political strive.
Admiral Mullen emphasized the need for the United States to “move beyond counterterrorism to address long-term foundations of Pakistan’s success.” Those foundations, he said,
include improved trade relations with the United States, economic development, electricity generation, and water security. In other words, actions that can help the Pakistani people lead better lives, which in turn will promote internal stability.
He said we must continue to work with the government and military in Pakistan to forge a constructive relationship. He said in the testimony that he has spent a great amount of time during the past four years cultivating a relationship with Pakistan’s military. I have been dedicated to this task because I know the importance of this relationship, strained as it is, and because I recognize the difficulties Pakistan has had and the many sacrifices it has made in its own internal fight against terrorism. And despite deep personal disappointments in the decisions of the Pakistani military and government, I still believe that we must stay engaged. This is because while Pakistan is part of the problem in the region, it must also be part of the
solution. A flawed and strained engagement with Pakistan is better than disengagement. We have completely disengaged in the past. That disengagement failed and brings us where we are today. Thus, our engagement requires a combination of patience with understanding what is in Pakistan’s national interests and a clear-eyed assessment about what is in ours.
Even in the midst of extraordinary challenges in our relationship today, I believe we can take advantage of this situation and reframe U.S.-Pakistan relations. While the relationship must be guided by some clear principles to which both sides adhere. As he retires today I reproduce his words today for us to think on importance of relationship for both the countries. One of Mullen’s most concerted efforts has been to strengthen the United States’ relationship with Pakistan through his personal relationship with Pakistani Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. Visiting Pakistan 27 times during the past four years, Mullen said he has developed “a very close relationship” with Pakistan’s senior officer. Their relationship has helped move Pakistan beyond its distrust of the United States — the product of America’s abandonment in 1989 and of its breaking of relations altogether from 1990 to 2002. Can both the Nations cool the hot flame in National interest and work with mutual respect giving due space to each others National interest?