The U.S. and Pakistan still have some trust issues
The top U.S. and Pakistani officials who gathered in Washington this week for a grand “strategic dialogue” took turns patting each other on the back. And with good reason. They have made gains in nearly every dimension of a relationship that has been plagued by public suspicion on both sides.
But it would be a mistake to read this display as an indication that the trust issues have been resolved. Indeed, top officials of two U.S. intelligence agencies said essentially the same thing in separate communications: For all the important tactical changes the Pakistanis have made mobilizing their sometimes chaotic government to combat the Taliban insurgency, this won’t be a truly strategic partnership until the army takes decisive action against its key long-time ally in Afghanistan, the Haqqani network, and closes down the safe haven from which it operates in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
This is the “trust but verify” detail of the U.S.-Pakistan rapprochement, reminiscent of the U.S.-Soviet détente. American officials say that with their advanced intelligence-collections systems, they are in a position to monitor Pakistani contacts with Haqqani operatives. When there is a decisive move to cut them off, the U.S. will see and verify it. At that point, in the minds of the U.S. intelligence chiefs, the strategic shift will truly have taken place and the real celebration can begin.
Much of the discussion during this week’s U.S.-Pakistan festival was devoted to the future framework of a post-war Afghanistan. The Pakistanis articulately shared their analysis that Afghanistan’s geography, culture and history make a strong central government in Kabul unlikely. So what would a weaker government look like, and how would it avoid sliding back into the warlordism of recent decades? Those are questions officials on both sides will be mulling in coming weeks.
My guess is that part of the reason the Pakistanis have resisted American pleas for a total crackdown on the Haqqani network is that they believe peace negotiations will fail in Afghanistan unless they include all parties to the conflict -- including elements of the fearsome Haqqani group.
But here’s an encouraging note: The Pakistanis also seem to believe there’s a U.S.-powered peace train chugging toward Kabul, and it was clear this week that nobody wants to be the last on board the train, once it begins to gather momentum.
Posted by: cms1 | March 26, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: seraphina2 | March 26, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: hughes_168 | March 26, 2010 11:06 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: kuvasz | March 27, 2010 12:00 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: udhoram | March 27, 2010 12:04 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: vineycb1 | March 27, 2010 12:21 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: kas1201 | March 27, 2010 1:35 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: TarheelChief | March 27, 2010 1:56 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: wjc1va | March 27, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Wildthing1 | March 27, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: majawaid | March 30, 2010 3:06 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.