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'Statesmanship important in post-Osama scenario'

Updated May 17, 2011


Supporters of Pakistani religious group Jamaat-ud-Dawa, rally to condemn the United States for the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Sunday, May 15, 2011 in Lahore, Pakistan. Party's chief Hafiz Saeed called bin Laden a martyr and demanded the Pakistani government break ties with the United States. - AP Photo

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK: A vast majority of Pakistani Americans say they felt relieved that Osama bin Laden, America's most wanted terrorist, was killed as he posed a threat to both countries while maintaining that the American action should not become a norm justifying violation of the country's sovereignty.

"Pakistan should step up its international diplomacy to protect its national interests, enforce the law strictly to curb militant activity on its land and demonstrate statesmanship in dealing with the situation arising from May 2 American action in Abbottabad," say Pakistanis living in the United States.

There is a widespread sense that elimination of al Qaeda chief should be considered as a one-off event as Pakistan is situated in a tough neighborhood. Any repetition of such action would hit the very basis of the alliance. Moreover, as reflected in the unanimous Parliamentary resolution, any such move in future will force Islamabad into using its leverage.

At the same time, the Pakistani-Americans say that Islamabad should probe how the al Qaeda chief managed to hide in the country and ensure, through strict law enforcement, that no foreigner is able to use Pakistani soil for extremist violence within the country or in any other part of the world.

"With regard to bin Laden's killing, we were relieved that a threat to both American and Pakistani lives has been erased," says Taha Gaya, who represents an advocacy group, Pakistani-American Leadership Center, on the Capitol Hill.

Gaya, like most other Pakistani-Americans, underscores that both Pakistan and the United States need to repair their relationship through a series of confidence building measures.

Both sides have complaints and "they should sort out the differences" to move the relationship forward.

"Senator John Kerry's visit is a good opportunity and Pakistan's granting US access to widows of bin Laden is also a welcome cooperative move," Gaya noted.

For its part, the United States, which has superior technology, should share intelligence with Pakistan to make the alliance productive and move ahead in a cooperative spirit. The Pakistani-Americans in this respect stress the importance of            Pakistani cooperation over the years since 9/11 attacks and cite President Barack Obama's remarks in an interview with CBS that the US could not have taken out al Qaeda militants without Islamabad's cooperation.

"The discovery of bin Laden in an important town, no doubt, is embarrassing because he was responsible for thousands of deaths in America and Pakistan ----then there is embarrassment for the Pakistani state that it was not taken into confidence before the launch of the operation," says Dr Nisar Chaudhry, President of the Pakistani-American League.

"How to deal with it? We need political acumen, a pragmatic approach and demonstration of statesmanship to deal with the situation because we don't want to see this action become a precedent ---- for its part America should enhance intelligence sharing with Pakistan     --- the Pakistani officials are accountable to their people and must have something to show to their people that this is a productive and constructive alliance," he adds.

The Pakistanis also call for steps by both sides to restore the mutual trust which has been badly hurt.

Dr Nisar Chaudhry, who has years of experience in both Pakistani and American affairs, says the fact should not be lost on US Congress that Pakistan has been the biggest victim of terror.

"Both countries need each other as partners and cooperation is the only way for success in Afghanistan and the region---Pakistan needs help in both security and economic fields," Dr Chauhdry adds.

Shafqat Tanweer, chairman of the Pakistan League of America, advocates that Washington and Islamabad to hold frank talks at every level to rebuild relations badly strained by the unilateral American raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

"Any rupture in the ties between Pakistan and the United States is not in the interest of the two countries," Tanweer said. "Every effort should be made to avoid such a possibility."

Pakistan, he said, must not compromise on its national interests, and mutual trust, respect and equality should form the basis of the new relationship with the United States.

The New York-based Pakistan League of America, a 30-year-old organization of Pakistani professionals working in the United States, is the most representative body in this country.

The League president said that Pakistan is not the only country where intelligence failures have occurred-- they have happened in the United States (9/11), in Britain, France and India. "Mistakes do happen. There should be mutual trust."

Tanweer, who is also president of Pakistan People's Party, USA, said Pakistan has made huge sacrifices in the fight against terrorism and the international community, especially United States must acknowledge, Pakistan's role in combating the menace. Osama bin Laden was Pakistan's enemy as well.

He also underlined the need for holding accountable anyone found to be helping bin Laden.