Making up for lost time
Well, it’s a start. Relations between the US and Pakistan haven’t been too peachy for a stretch now and the US’s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan talking to our diplomatic apparatus in a structured setting will serve to crack the ice a bit.
The envoy reiterated his demand for incarcerated physician Dr Shakeel Afridi, who is in the slammer for his role in intelligence gathering prior to the Osama Bin Laden raid. Though the current problems in relations could be said to have started from the aforementioned raid, it is a recent interview (dubious in authenticity, though) of the doctor, where he claims the Pakistani intelligence and security apparatus considers the US an enemy worse than traditional bette noir India that has gotten the Americans riled. Words like those didn’t, presumably, serve to endear him to his captors and didn’t serve to mow down the differences between Pakistan and the US either.
The rest of his statements do sound conciliatory. There was, for instance, the eloquent denunciation of the controversial film that has many Muslims up in arms across the world. Calling the film “disgusting”, though not putting him in the company of the young Muslim youth burning flags and attacking property, is still using stark words by diplo-speak standards.
He then moved on to words that make sense to everyone but are terribly difficult to implement, by his government or ours. Obviously, everyone wants a relationship with an ally that is “enduring, strategic and clearly-defined” but the devil really is in the details. But perhaps both sides have their own pet areas where clear definitions are not in their best interests.
The Haqqani Network and an operation in North Waziristan was not as strongly pursued as it often is. Perhaps the Americans want to ease into the debate later, perhaps they want to let Pakistan decide the right time, who knows? But, with a presidential election in the US on the way, the Pakistani deep state also needs to realise some things. The two parties in the US differ in their views on Pakistan in that one wants to be tough with Pakistan and the other wants to be tougher. This means thin ice for us.