The US endgame exhibits confusion?

The high-level US delegation that recently visited Pakistan returned, realistically speaking, empty-handed; this is established from the simple language used by the Secretary of State. When asked about the success of her tour to Islamabad, during the House Foreign Relations Committee hearing, on October 28, she replied that she had frankly told her hosts to go after the militants. Among the countries described as professedly friendly, diplomatic practice makes the use of such terms as frank tantamount to saying that the two sides do not have consensus ad idem on issues of crucial significance. Moreover, Hillary was in Pakistan for barely more than a day, but her team included CIA Chief David Petraeus, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey and Special Representative of the US President on Pakistan and Afghanistan, Marc Grossman. The presence of such a delegation showed the 'urgency with which Washington views the role expected of Islamabad in Afghanistan. The strained relationship between the two countries, in the wake of the US attack on Abbottabad, is too well known to require reiteration. But, of late, there has been an increase in the American demand for expanding the scope of operations against the Haqqani network within Pakistan. On the other hand, Pakistan has maintained that it would conduct military operations in North Waziristan, if and when required by its own priorities. According to an article, Tensions Flare as G.I.s Take Fire Out of Pakistan, published in the New York Times: The US and Afghan soldiers near the border with Pakistan have faced a sharply increased volume of rocket fire from Pakistani territory in the past six months, putting them at greater risk even as worries over the disintegrating relationship between the United States and Pakistan constrain how they can strike back. Ground-to-ground rockets fired within Pakistan have landed on or near American military outposts in one Afghan border province at least 55 times since May.Since then, the escalation in cross-border barrages has fuelled frustration among officers and anger among soldiers at front-line positions who suspect, but cannot prove, a Pakistani government role. The Pakistan governments relations with the US have frayed further after senior American officials publicly accused Pakistan of harbouring and helping guerrillas.Pakistani officials have repeatedly denied aiding fighters for the Taliban and the Haqqani network, which operate on both sides of the border. In this climate, American officers were in a difficult position when describing the attacks. Many, especially those who might be identified, painstakingly tried not to blame Pakistan directly. So, the causalities of American and Pakistani troops remains high; for example, on October 17, the militants ambushed Pakistani troops killing nine soldiers in gun battles that lasted several hours on the outskirts of Peshawar in the north-western tribal area. Eleven days later, a Taliban suicide bomber rammed a vehicle into an armoured NATO bus killing 17 people, including 12 Americans and a Canadian in the deadliest attack on the US-led coalition in Kabul since the war began. It was a major setback for the alliance, as it begins to drawdown combat troops. Anyway, the confusion in Washington about what to do in Afghanistan is self-evident. Clinton contended, in her latest testimony to the Congress, that US interests demanded that this be done; this stand fails to evaluate, whatever the interests of the local powers that may be. A foreign policy made solely on the interests of one power cannot be simply said to be sound, if the interests of the other are prima facie fundamentally at variance with it. Instead of producing longevity in foreign policy, the potential of a sudden blasting of the situation remains high. Doctrinally, in terms of historiography, it was a mistake which brought the Soviet Union to it knees in this region. The Iraqi experience, too, should have amply demonstrated the impulsive attachment that the local people have towards indigenous independence. As such, there can be no doubt that the US policymakers are really confused in their approach in this region: With Iraq in the West and Afghanistan and Pakistan in the East, the US demands a moral and a strategic quid pro quo for its huge expenditures on the present local political setup. Without taking into account the history of the people, such naivet is bound to backfire. I also doubt if the policymakers are aware of the implications of the two Afghan Wars fought by the British in 1842 and 1843? This particular war policy having literally brought the US to dire financial straits, Washington has, to the chagrin of its staunchest supporters, handed over the future destiny of Iraq into Irans hands, while announcing simultaneously that soon all its troops would be out of the country Afghanistan, too, boldly, through its President Karzai, announced that if Pakistan is attacked by the US, Kabul would be on Pakistans side If these manifestly notorious facts are not taken seriously, then history would simply ignore the present US policies in this region. The ongoing debate among the Republican hopefuls for the office of the President, make it manifest that none of them come close to correctness of the propriety that apparently Congressman Ron Paul has over this matter The writer is a barrister at law (UK &US), and senior advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

The writer is barrister at law (US and UK), senior advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and professor at Harvard University.

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