Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s refusal to give an appointment to US Assistant Secretary of Defence Peter Lavoy should be seen within the context of not just the recent badmouthing of Pakistan by Mr Lavoy’s boss, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, but also Panetta’s recent huddle with India to speak against Pakistan, as reported in The Washington Times. According to The Washington Times report, Panetta made fun of the Pakistani armed forces, when he said to his Indian interlocutors that the ‘brave Pakistani forces’ were to be kept out of the Abbottabad raid against al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, and which led to his being killed. This seems to reflect Panetta’s remarks about India being important for the USA, which was increasing ties with it. Evidence is in it being given a lucrative civilian nuclear deal, even though that has been denied to Pakistan. With the Defence Secretary badmouthing not Pakistan but targeting its armed forces, and that too with canards that have been assiduously spread by India, he virtually guaranteed that General Kayani would not meet Assistant Secretary Lavoy.
While refusing appointments is symbolic and makes the headlines, there will have to be a way to move forward with this relationship, eventually. Pakistan’s stand on it parliamentary committee’s recommendations is in keeping with the grace of a democratic setup. The meeting even if granted, did not have to mean that we give in on their conditions, but the fact that not even a meeting time could be agreed upon, is a signal that matters are worse than we may have thought.