About time too
The over two month long tension between Pakistan and the US seems to be easing now. Domestic and American media reports indicate that while a parliamentary committee is to decide the contours of Pakistan’s US policy, enough work, leading to concrete proposals, has been done behind the scene. A number of statements indicate that understanding has already been reached on certain basic points between Pakistan military leadership and the US and NATO officials. It is no more a secret that there is an agreement on the resumption of NATO supply lines with the condition that every container will be taxed. An unnamed security official has spelt out some of the tacit agreements reached which are to be finalised at a meeting between Centom chief General Mattis and COAS Kayani next week. The Parliamentary Committee on Security is supposed to formulate its recommendations and get them approved from the Parliament before Mattis’ arrival.
The resumption of cooperation between the US and Pakistan is needed to eliminate the extremists who pose a threat to mankind in general and the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan in particular. Islamabad has, however, to ensure that Pakistan’s interests are in no way jeopardised during the talks. The US has to be told that Pakistan cannot forgo the import of gas and power from Iran. Further, that the war on terror has to be fought with mutual consultation so that Pakistan is not left in the lurch after the US has withdrawn from Afghanistan.
Any move to improve relations with the US is bound to be challenged by the extremist fringe in Pakistan represented by organisations like the Defence of Pakistan Council. To meet the challenge, the government and the military leadership have to be seen to be on the same page. The extremists have vowed never to allow the Nato tankers to pass through Pakistan. They are also opposed to drone attacks, the latest taking place on Wednesday. Even when the strikes are selective and limited and carried out after clearance from the right quarters, they are going to be projected as evidence that the government is a sell-out. So will be the presence of the US military trainers and CIA operatives even if it is infinitesimal. There is a need on the part of the government and the army to jointly own whatever decisions are finalised.