The cover of Condoleezza Rice’s new book which was released earlier this month.
The cover of Condoleezza Rice’s new book which was released earlier this month.

WASHINGTON: “It’s a relationship you’ve got to have but it is tough,” says former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice while describing the US-Pakistan partnership.

In an interview to MSNBC, Ms Rice acknowledged that Pakistan was more stable than before, although it still faced some major issues.

Relations between the two countries have deteriorated since 2011, when the United States discovered and eliminated Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad without informing Pakistan. Many in Pakistan saw this as a violation of the country’s sovereignty, while people in the US were upset over the presence of their worst enemy inside a friendly country.

“There is no doubt that Pakistan has got internal issues,” said Ms Rice while responding to a question. “But Pakistan is a little bit more stable than it’s been in a number of years. So maybe there’s something.”

Ms Rice, who served as the national security adviser and the secretary of state under the Bush administration, said: “The relationship with Pakistan is kind of like a critically ill patient. You know, you get up every day, you take the pulse, you deal with whatever fever has set in overnight and you just try to keep it alive for the next day.”

“That’s how I thought about Pakistan when I was there,” said Ms Rice while responding to questions about her new book Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom.

The former secretary of state also complained that Pakistan was not the “stalwart fighter” against particularly the Taliban in the area between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The US often complains that while Pakistan has gradually reduced internal terrorism by launching several operations against the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and other extremist groups within the country, it was not equally keen to fight the Afghan Taliban. The Americans also accuse Pakistan of allowing the Afghan Taliban to use its territories for launching attacks inside Afghanistan.

Pakistan denies the charges as incorrect and insists that it is committed to fighting both Afghan and Pakistani Taliban and during recent operations it eliminated all terrorist hideouts in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Pakistan, however, complains that Kabul has allowed Pakistani Taliban groups to build sanctuaries inside Afghanistan and recently urged the US to help destroy those hideouts.

On Monday, the US offered to “work closely with Pakistan” and other states in the region as tensions on the country’s western borders increase.

The offer followed a warning by the head of Iran’s armed forces that Tehran would hit bases inside Pakistan if the government did not confront militants who allegedly carry out cross-border attacks.

In Washington, diplomatic sources confirmed that Pakistan had conveyed its concerns to the US over a growing nexus between India and Afghanistan for encouraging cross-border attacks and stirring troubles inside the country.

Published in Dawn, May 10th, 2017