US relations with Nawaz at all time low | Pakistan Today

US relations with Nawaz at all time low

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif and the US administration, previously always akin to one soul in two bodies, are now poles apart and alienation between them reached its highest point after Obama’s top statesmen stopped visiting the Sharifs since mid-May.
Innumerable leading US diplomats, including the influential Senator John Kerry, who heads the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Senator Carl Levin, Foreign Office Committee official Robert Crock and numerous congressional delegations have visited Pakistan in recent months and met Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leaders and others, but kept their distance from the PML-N and never bothered to meet Nawaz Sharif.
The estrangement surfaced in the backdrop of US top brigades’ briefing to President Barack Obama that Nawaz was no longer relevant to future US strategy, arguing that Nawaz’s once towering political persona of being a two-time prime minister and the one and only leader left after the demise of Benazir Bhutto had finally fizzled out, a US diplomat said. “Nawaz’s sway is limited to Punjab and he has lost foothold in other parts of country and even in the centre,” he added.
Eventually, Nawaz-US ties drastically thinned out following his tirade against the US on the Raymond Davis affair, the unilateral US operation in Abbottabad, an alleged US hand in the Pakistan Naval Station Mehran attack and his shunning of US grants as tokens of disdain, a senior leader in the PML-N told Pakistan Today. Engendering a gulf with the US is a severe setback to Nawaz Sharif, who is already suffering political isolation after the PPP-PML-Quaid alliancem, he said. “The loneliness in the political and international realm has put the political career of Nawaz in peril,” he added. It is happening at a crucial time when political parties are flexing their muscles to activate election drives and the PML-N government in Punjab announced an “election budget” of 2011-2012 on June 10.
The PML-N leader said that Afghan President Hamid Karzai was set to meet Nawaz according to the schedule to take him onboard in the Afghan peace process under the patronage of the US, but the US factor kept Nawaz’s involvement to a bare minimum. Karazi declined to meet Nawaz and deferred the meeting to his next tour of Pakistan at the behest of US administration, which now believes that Nawaz is not important enough to be involved in high-level developments.
The last meeting between Nawaz and US dignitaries was held when Senator Kerry called on him on February 16 in Islamabad.
US Ambassador Cameron Munter and Carmela Conroy met Nawaz at his residence in Raiwind on May 14, 2011.
In an attempt to rack up political mileage, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had announced that US aid would be shunned, singling it out from other donors. This act was the final nail in the coffin of US relations with the PML-N, a political expert said. Adding fuel to the fire, Nawaz also said in a public meeting that Pakistan should stop taking aid from the US before the US stopped the aid itself. Talking to reporters outside Quaid-e-Azam’s mausoleum in Karachi, Nawaz had also called for an independent commission to be form to probe the US operation in Abbottabad and asked it to bring facts before the nation as soon as possible.
Cracks between the US-PML-N relationship were thrown into even sharper relieve when principal officer of the US consulate in Lahore warned Shahbaz of American displeasure on his refusal to accept western aid. An official of the provincial government said Conroy had demanded an explanation for the refusal of American aid and warned that the Punjab government’s decision might result in Washington’s displeasure. Shahbaz said he was ready to face that anger but would not accept the aid, said the official.

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