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Where Interests Clash – US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue

Posted by yourpakistan on October 26, 2010


Farooq Hameed Khan – The Nation

It was the perfect setting for some frank and hard talk, as the Pakistani delegation headed by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi along with General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani arrived in Washington for the third round of the much trumpeted Strategic Dialogue.

Despite USA’s flood relief efforts, Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s 86-year jail sentence and increased drone strikes have fuelled anti-Americanism to new heights in Pakistan. More importantly, the unprovoked helicopter air strikes, which killed three Frontier Corps soldiers, had witnessed a stinging Pakistani response and as a result NATO’s Torkham and Chaman logistics lifelines were closed for almost 10 days. In addition, with over a hundred NATO oil tankers going up in flames in Pakistan, the US administration was shocked. A few weeks earlier, a Pakistani military delegation had called off their official visit to CENTCOM in protest against the humiliation faced at the airport in Washington.

Meanwhile, Washington continues to ignore Islamabad’s strategic interests. The US is stuck to its stubborn position and ruled out any mediation between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue, which is, indeed, a negation of President Obama’s commitment during his pre-White House campaign to help resolve the issue. However, the Pakistani leadership, though wrongly, expects that Obama, during his forthcoming visit to India, would prove his statesmanship and urge the Indian government to end the human rights violations in Kashmir and help resolve the dispute according to the UN resolutions.

One wonders why does the US continue to propagate that the real threat to Pakistan is from the extremists within its borders and not posed by India. This line of thinking forces Pakistanis to suspect US motives, especially when the superpower ignores the deployment of bulk of Indian war machine on its eastern borders. General Kayani’s India-centric stance, hence, makes perfect strategic sense and is in line with our national security interests.

While Holbrooke confirmed that ‘private talks’ were being held on the supply of civil nuclear technology to Pakistan, the US has also asked for details about the Pak-China civil nuclear agreement to see if it fits in with the international regime. By according preferential treatment to India in providing the civil nuclear technology, the US has disturbed the nuclear balance in South Asia and, thus, worked against Pakistan’s vital interests. But with the latest dialogue structured around 13 sectors, it has lost its strategic bias and become more tactical in nature. Accordingly, Pakistan’s core interests related to halting the drone strikes, transfer of armed drone technology, establishment of ROZs in FATA, enhanced market access or export quota for Pakistani goods or help in debt retirement or moratorium continue to remained unaddressed.

 

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