Friday, 11 May 2012 09:54
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan-US partnership appears to have reached a new low subsequent to Hillary Clinton’s statements on her recent visit to India and the new congressional move restricting Pakistan aid, plunging the Foreign Office in a quandary, forcing it to cancel its weekly press briefing on Thursday.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited New Delhi after staying in Dhaka and skipped Islamabad. In addition, she repeated the ‘do more’ mantra, asking Pakistan to make sure that its territory was not used as a launching pad for terrorism.
She also repeated Washington’s stance on the chief of a banned outfit, Jamaatud Dawa, Hafiz Saeed, saying the US had every reason to believe Saeed was the ‘principal architect’ of the Mumbai terror strikes that claimed 166 people, including six Americans.
Clinton, according to some reports, was supposed to visit Islamabad but her departure from New Delhi, skipping the important ally in the war on terror reflected the state of deterioration in ties between the two countries. The freeze began last year after a Nato air strike on the Salala border post on November 26 that killed 24 soldiers.
Pakistan is yet to receive an invitation to attend the Chicago conference scheduled for May 20-21 to discuss Nato’s future in Afghanistan.
Analysts point to the time when Pakistan refused to attend the last year’s Bonn conference as a protest against the Salala attack.
Furthermore, a bill moved in the US House Appropriations subcommittee for State and Foreign Operations was very disappointing for Pakistan which sought US Congress restrictions on Washington’s assistance to Islamabad, making aid subject to the Secretary of State’s certification.
The bill had some clauses that might be even more anathema to the military than the clauses in the Kerry-Lugar bill over which Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff had publicly expressed reservations.
The offending clause of the bill which seeks Secretary of State to certify that Pakistan is: “not supporting terrorist activities against United States or coalition forces in Afghanistan, and Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies are not intervening extra-judicially into political and judicial processes in Pakistan”.
Furthermore, the bill also seeks the Secretary of State to certify that Pakistan is “cooperating with the United States in counter-terrorism efforts against the Haqqani network, the Quetta Shura of Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-i-Mohammad, Al Qaeda and other domestic and foreign terrorist organisations, including taking steps to end support for such groups and prevent them from basing and operating in Pakistan and carrying out cross-border attacks into neighbouring countries;
“And dismantling improvised explosive device (IED) networks and interdicting precursor chemicals used in the manufacture of IEDs; (D) preventing the proliferation of nuclear related material and expertise;
“Issuing visas in a timely manner for United States visitors engaged in counter-terrorism efforts and assistance programs in Pakistan; and providing humanitarian organizations access to detainees, internally displaced persons, and other Pakistani civilians affected by the conflict.”
Business Recorder made repeated attempts to solicit the view of Foreign Office’s spokesman Moazzam Ahmad Khan on the issues but he was not available for comments.
However, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Salim Saifullah Khan regretted the new bill in the US Congress, saying that it was not for the first time that Washington had been trying to exert pressure on Islamabad.
He said that the US and the world, instead of recognising Pakistan tremendous sacrifices in the war against terrorism, were undermining its efforts. He said that the US Secretary of State’s recent statements during her India visit were more regrettable and the Foreign Office should have come up with a reaction.
Referring to Clinton’s remarks, he said that the world was like a ‘fly’ which always chooses dust to sit on. For Pakistan, he said that it was high time to say ‘goodbye’ to the war on terror. “If France and Germany can pull themselves out of the war on terror....why not Pakistan?”
He, however, argued: “We should put our house in order before taking some important decisions, like saying ‘goodbye’ to the war on terror.”