WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama may soon send his military chief to Pakistan with an offer that goes beyond financial assistance and addresses Islamabad’s security concerns towards Afghanistan and India.
The US media reported that the proposed visit would be aimed at salvaging a relationship that had gone from tense to toxic.
But Ambassador Husain Haqqani said no visit was scheduled in the near future, although he acknowledged that both sides had launched a concerted effort to improve their ties.
As part of these efforts, he is meeting 12 US lawmakers to persuade them not to bring further restriction on US economic and military assistance to Pakistan.
Earlier this week, lawmakers proposed linking 75 per cent of US assistance to Pakistan to its performance in the war against terror.
The US media, however, insisted that Admiral Mike Mullen was going to Islamabad with some new suggestions from the Obama administration. Admiral Mullen — who visited Islamabad two weeks ago with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — would take with him a proposal to address Pakistan’s “legitimate security concerns”.
These could include “pressing India to limit its presence in Afghanistan and by helping to resolve the Indo-Pakistani dispute over Kashmir”, said an editorial piece by the Bloomberg news agency. “Mr Mullen would also make clear the inevitable consequences for Pakistan if it continues to back terrorist groups”, the piece noted.
But Pakistani diplomatic sources in Washington warned that such threats might not work and instead urged a deeper commitment to address Pakistan’s concerns.
During a Senate hearing on Wednesday, Senator Patrick Leahy, a senior Democrat, called Pakistan a “putative ally” for allegedly arresting Pakistanis who helped the US raid. “How do we support governments that lie to us?” he asked outgoing Defence Secretary Robert Gates at his final appearance on Capitol Hill.
“Well, first of all, I would say, based on 27 years in CIA and four and a half years in this job, most governments lie to each other. That’s the way business gets done,” Mr Gates replied.“Do they also arrest the people that help us?” he asked.
“Sometimes,” said Mr Gates. “When they say they’re allies? Senator Leahy asked again. “Sometimes,” Mr Gates replied.