The recent biannual White House report has caused enough mischief within two days of its being made public. It has led to strong, though divergent, reactions in Pakistan and US. In Pakistan, the report was rubbished by the military spokesman for misinterpreting the situation on the ground in the tribal areas. In Washington, it led Pakistan-baiter Congressman Gary Ackerman to demand the US abandon Pakistan and concentrate on ties with India. What the wrangling is likely to do is to further strengthen the anti-US sentiment in Pakistan. The development would hearten the extremists in the cities and the terrorists in the tribal area. And all this because an arrogant US would not accept anything short of blind adherence to its orders even if this was to play havoc in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
It is ironic that Washington continues to pressurise the Pakistan army to undertake operations in North Waziristan even when it does not agree with its strategy in other areas. The US has consistently ignored complaints about delays in disbursement of military aid and failure in providing the much needed spare parts and helicopters on time. Thus, if there has been a delay in putting end to the insurrection in tribal areas, Washington too is to be held responsible. The White House report criticises the civilian government for being weak, divided and unable to deal with the problems also. The criticism is yet another reflection of Washingtons hypocrisy. Many in Pakistan believe that successive American regimes, those that supported Zia-ul-Haq and Musharraf for over two decades and looked the other way as the military rulers divided and suppressed political parties, are in fact mainly responsible for weakening of democracy and stunting the growth of political parties in this country.
That said, there is a need on the part of the Pakistan army to be more open and transparent. Pakistani media should be embedded during military operations in the tribal areas to be able to evaluate the armys performance better. The army would have otherwise none except itself to defend it against the sort of charges leveled in the past including that of shooting civilian prisoners. It should also provide more details of the army budget to the Parliament than it has shown willingness to so far.