Third round of the three days strategic dialogue between Pakistan and the United States has been concluded in Washington with optimistic joint communiqué. While hailing Pakistan’s efforts to battle extremists, seeking to bolster an uneasy alliance with the frontline nation, the US has announced a $2 billion package of military and security aid to Pakistan.
In a joint press conference at the end of the dialogue, Clinton said the talks had been positive, while expressing confidence over the strategic dialogue, saying it would help understand both the countries.
Clinton further elaborated, “The US has no stronger partner when it comes to counter-terrorism efforts against the extremists who threaten us both.”
On the other side, stressing that recent violence against people in the Indian-held Kashmir, which has threatened South Asian peace prospects, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi asked US President Barack Obama to take up the decades-old dispute with India during his upcoming visit to the country in November.
Qureshi further explained, “Pakistan and the US have a shared interest in a peaceful and stable South Asia. Unfortunately, this prospect is threatened again by the recent events in Kashmir.”
However, the dialogue was mainly focussed on the war on terror and Pakistan’s role in it. In this regard, America only pays attention on the strategy about the fight against extremists and from this point of view on the military needs of Pakistan’s defence forces. So the hallmark of the these strategic talks were less strategic in its true sense and more tactical dealing with the current issues of urgent nature—was also the presence of the US President during the joint meeting of the two delegations.
During the meeting, General Kayani clearly explained Pakistan’s point of view regarding the situation in Afghanistan and the Pak-Afghan border suggesting Pakistan’s future strategy to deal with the militants, besides highlighting the security problems it is facing on its eastern border with India. Obama also exchanged views with Kayani and Qureshi in relation to his forthcoming visit to India, while regretting that he would not be able to visit Pakistan in this trip, but, perhaps, next year in 2011, as the Indian lobby is declaring Obama’s visit a great success of New Delhi’s foreign policy.
The Obama administration also made it clear that it expects Islamabad to “do more” in the war on terror—specifically against the Haqqani group as the US officials have recently assured us that further assistance would be provided in that case. But the Pakistani delegation remained firm suggesting that action against any group would be decided by Pakistan according to its interest.
It is notable that the battle against the militants had expanded over the last year, but the floods had undone a lot of the Pakistani army’s efforts.
Sources suggest that during the Pak-US strategic dialogue, Pakistan has reiterated its demand for civil nuclear cooperation for power generation and greater access to the US markets or preferential trade agreement for Pakistan so as to stabilise its economy.
Islamabad is fighting against militancy to ensure the global peace. In this regard, Pakistan’s armed forces have already broken the backbone of the Taliban militants through successful Swat-Malakand and Waziristan military operations. Now, Pakistan deserves that US must fulfill its needs by extending cooperation in the nuclear, energy and drone technologies.
Pakistan has made enormous sacrifices and suffered immensely in the global war against terrorism. If we judge the losses of any country regarding war on terror in the last eight years, Pakistan as a frontline state has given great sacrifices in terms of human life, collateral damage and economic losses. In this context, the economy suffered huge losses in terms of exports, foreign investment, privatization and industrial production.
No doubt, Pakistan has sacrificed more than NATO and USA owing to this new style conflict. Besides other losses like suicide attacks and lawlessness in the country, more than 2000 personnel of the security forces have been martyred during war against militancy.
Moreover, since 9/11, Pakistan’s security agencies have also killed or captured many militant commanders which also include the masterminds of Al-Qaeda, namely Khalid Sheikh and Abu Faraj entailing other key leaders.
Nonetheless, the strategic dialogue, which started last year, was mainly to remove trust deficit, and in its place, build mutual confidence between the two allies. In this respect, trust deficit still exists between Islamabad and Washington because America still prefers India at the cost of Pakistan.
The importance of ties between Islamabad and Washington could also be assessed from the statement of the US Deputy Assistant Secretary on Defence for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia David Samuel Sedney who had said on June 10 this year “Pakistan and the United States have stepped forward, under the strategic dialogue…and the defence officials of both countries would meet again, declaring the current interaction positive.
In this regard, as to how current Pak-US interaction will become positive as America has also been boasting India in various sectors rapidly at the cost of China and Pakistan. In this context, on June 3, Indo-US strategic dialogue took place in Washington. And India and the US vowed to strengthen their cooperation in key areas like defence, counter-terrorism, education, nuclear energy and agriculture.
US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, while calling India a “rising global power”, disclosed, “US was committed to the modernisation of India’s military and that the US military holds the maximum number of joint exercises with the Indian Army.” Surprisingly, like Pakistan, the US high officials never imposed any condition on New Delhi that American military aid will not be used against its neighbour. In addition, Indian External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna had indicated the secret diplomacy behind this dialogue. Without naming Pakistan, he said, “the threat of transnational terrorism requires both India and the US to cooperate more closely than ever before though the epicentre of this threat lies in India’s neighbourhood.”
Some political and defence analysts take Indo-US strategic dialogue in wake of Pak-US strategic dialogue as an ambivalent policy of Washington. But US diplomacy behind these dialogues is quite different.
The fact of the matter is that America which signed a nuclear deal with India in 2008, intends to make India a great power of Asia to contain China and destablise Pakistan as well as Iran. While Pakistan’s province, Balochistan where China has invested billion of dollars to develop Gwadar seaport which could link Central Asian trade with rest of the world, irritates both Washington and New Delhi.
It is mentionable that Pakistan is the only nuclear country in the Islamic world. Therefore, India and Israel with the tactical support of America are creating instability in the country.
Pakistan insists that India should not play an active role in Afghanistan. During the Soviet invasion and even after that, Pakistan’s western border was safe due to pro-Pakistan regime in Afghanistan. But 9/11 opened the door for India to make an entrance with its aid, reconstruction and rehabilitation programmes in Afghanistan. Under the pretext of Talibinisation of Afghanistan and Pakistan, Indian secret agency, RAW has well-established its networks, and has been running secret operations against Pakistan from its consulates of Afghanistan. Besides, causing lawlessness in our country, another aim behind is also to get a strategic depth to encircle Pakistan.
Although US has been playing a shrewd diplomacy behind the strategic dialogue, yet it must come to realise that without Pakistan, the war against Taliban cannot be won. So, this demands to keep India out of the war theatre. Pakistan would like to be assured that the post-war Afghanistan doesn’t become a hub of Indian intrigues against it.
Sajjad Shaukat is a regular contributor to Opinion Maker. He writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations.