American, British and Pakistani sources have expressed varying opinions on the subjects of drone attacks and the land route for Nato goods that currently stands blocked owning to embittered Pak-US relations resulting from a succession of unsavoury events. As President Asif Ali Zardari called the drone hits counterproductive, undermining the cooperation equation of the two countries, in a meeting with a US Congressional delegation that called on him on Monday, a State Department official advised Pakistan to “bite the bullet” and allow the passage of supplies. The official’s counsel, making no reference to drones, contained a hidden warning that should Islamabad fail to act positively, the American public would pressurise its administration to act to safeguard the US interests in the region, which he defined as nuclear, counterterrorism and reconciliation in Afghanistan. At the same time, he maintained that the two strategic allies (Pakistan and the US) could not afford a rupture in relations. A Pentagon spokesman acknowledged that the team negotiating the supplies’ resumption had returned to the US, adding that an agreement had been reached; certain specific points needed to be sorted out, however. British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who was on a visit to Islamabad, added his voice to the need to reopen the transit, at a joint press conference held with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Monday.
No doubt, Pakistan values its ties with the US and has high stakes in peace and harmony in post-pullout Afghanistan, but Washington must appreciate that democracies are required to respect the will of the people that is expressed through Parliament. The US itself is known to have pleaded Congressional disagreement to commitments it has made with other countries, not to honour them. Thus, Islamabad is not asking for something that is unheard of. Drones violate our territorial sovereignty, raise Pakistanis’ hackles and, now, getting critical coverage even within the US calling for an end to them since they are against international law and unconstitutional and kill innocent people as well. And an apology for the tragedy at Salala is the least one should offer.