Challenging ties with US reshaping Pak politics!!!: Capital Viewpoint
October 28, 2011
Variety of interpretations ended up misinterpreting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s intended message to Pakistan through her last visit here that was entirely her own initiative to underline importance of Pak-US bilateral ties.
Some called it a high-powered delegation under the Secretary to warn Pakistan of “dire consequences,” if certain actions were not taken.
Others interpreted dire consequences as unilateral action by the US as they did in May this year. Yet an apparently ambitious school of though dubbed it as success of the Pakistani establishment against imperial arrogance of the Americans.
The military establishment believes that they have succeeded in convincing the US Administration that Pakistan army was already over-stretched. Being tasked with management of traditionally hostile Eastern and lately vulnerable Western borders the army was also facing financial constraints. The financial difficulties of the Army, also required carrying out internal operations against militants, were rising due to stalled reimbursements of coalition support fund (CSF), and recent denial of US assistance. Responsible officials confided to Weekly Pulse, that the US has understood financial as well as logistic constraints of the Pakistan army to launch any more operations.
The officials were, however, unable to buck the US demand for further squeezing militants through covert but joint operations on both sides of the border. They said covert but joint actions was only option to avoid a long standing US demand of North Waziristan operation and otherwise looming threat of unilateral action inside Pakistan.
Therefore joint actions, mostly US sponsored as well as supported, on the shared intelligence against target locations on both sides of border was the only middle way, the officials said. US agreeing to keep these operations and actions as covert was another development towards rebuilding ties, the officials added.
According to the officials, the Secretary of State herself hinted at this direction when she said in an interview that there were “different ways of fighting besides overt military actions”. In the same interview that she gave after concluding her two-day meetings in Islamabad she was also reported as pressing upon Pakistan to fully share intelligence with US forces in Afghanistan and chock off money and supply routes.
The warning she issued while in Pakistan and afterward of dire consequences if militancy was not contained was to underline the urgency to accelerating combined counter terror effort. It was taken the other way round as if the US was threatening of a unilateral action if Pakistan army does not act against militants in North Waziristan or elsewhere. This misinterpretation alone was a blatant negation of what Clinton did effort for and claimed to have achieved through her visit and meetings in Islamabad. Thus, it forced the US Embassy to issue a “correction for the record.”
According to the US Embassy, several articles in Pakistani newspapers today misquoted U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her Bloomberg interview in Tajikistan, reporting that she “threatened” Pakistan and implied that the United States intends to take unilateral military action against Pakistan. This is false, the Secretary has consistently made clear in her public statements, including the Bloomberg interview, that the United States stands together with Pakistan and Afghanistan to avoid “dire consequences” that could result in the region if the three countries do not work together to “squeeze and shutdown” the terrorist threat on both sides of the border.
The Embassy also released the full quote (in question) of the Secretary’s October 22, interview with Bloomberg News: “I have made it clear that there will be dire consequences for Pakistan as well as Afghanistan if this threat from the terrorist networks is not contained, at the very least, because there’s no way that any government in Islamabad can control these groups. This is an opportunity, while we are still with 48 nations across the border in Afghanistan, where we have a lot of assets that we can put at their disposal, for us to work to really limit the threat posed by these groups… I think, following our conversations and the clarity that I believe was created, there’s a much greater understanding and appreciation of what we can do together to deal with these mutual threats.”
In this entire statement of the Secretary of State the portion “still with 48 nations across the border in Afghanistan, where we have a lot of assets that we can put at their (Pakistan’s) disposal” needs to be underlined. Here again she has revealed in so many words what was agreed upon between Pakistan and US behind the scenes wherein Pakistan army’s constraints were also understood.
US, reportedly, empathizing Pakistan Army’s ‘stretch’ was encouraging but the Americans failing to understand civil administrations’ failure in overcoming corruption was alarming for the ruling politicians at least . “If the civilian administration fails to control corruption, plug tax evasion, and in widening tax base, we cannot do anything as strategic partner of Pakistan,” observed a high ranking US diplomat in
a background discussion. “Still we are supposed to continue supporting democratic process and democratically elected government in this country which is our key partner in crucial war against terrorism,” he added.
Although the US diplomat speaking no different words than the Secretary of State was reaffirming US commitment to democracy in Pakistan, his tone emitted the Americans’ dissatisfaction with the elected government’s quality of governance. “For instance,” he said, “we have helped Pakistan upgrade turbines at the Terbela Dam, but we cannot do anything to implement power sector reforms essential to tackle the crisis.” This is a clear indication of the Americans’ intentions to see substantive change in Pakistani politics through the democratic process in practice. They would definitely use their influence to look up to the next general elections as a turning point in Pakistani politics. Different background interviews with various levels of the American diplomats here have unearthed a new kind of urge on part of them to act as opinion leaders in the Pakistani society.
Having bitter taste of poor governance, again and again, from the mainstream parties, Americans appear mulling a proactive role in opinionating the future landscape of the Pakistani politics suggesting “political innovations.” These American prescribed so-called innovations in politics would recommend starting with no to stigmatic or notorious corrupt elements. Giving cleaner and untested political forces and personalities, a chance would come next in logical sequencing of this, foreign as well, urge for change.
This way the Americans might be steering the public fervor seeking capable political leadership that could deliver to the masses to begin with. It is, however, a common sense understanding that the leaders preoccupied with credibility and legitimacy problems can hardly attend to the public issues, lest not mention quality governance.