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Panetta and Pakistan

Published Jun 08, 2012 12:10am


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THE US-Pakistan relationship is going through one of its roughest patches. But that does not justify the US defence secretary’s provocative public remarks in foreign capitals on each side of Pakistan in recent days. In Kabul yesterday Mr Panetta said America was reaching the “limits of [its] patience” regarding terrorist safe havens in the tribal areas. And New Delhi was an entirely inappropriate location for him to publicly discuss US-Pakistan tensions, compare them to India-Pakistan tensions, or share a joke about hiding the Osama bin Laden raid from Pakistan — all while describing India as an integral partner for America’s new military strategy in Asia. The language the secretary has used, in the locations he has chosen to use it, only runs the risk of making Pakistan’s security establishment more intransigent and paranoid and will become fodder for right-wing forces propagating anti-India and anti-America opinions. All of which will only make it tougher for the Pakistani government to cooperate with the US. It is unclear to what extent the State Department agrees with Mr Panetta’s approach, or whether, along with the stepped-up drone strikes, his words are part of a new and more aggressive American tactic to address the current impasse over Nato supply routes. But sending such messages publicly in foreign capitals with which Pakistan has complicated relationships — rather than limiting them to private discussions in Islamabad or Washington — will likely be counterproductive.

For Pakistan, this should be a moment to stop and think about where our strategies and policies have gotten us. Mr Panetta’s remarks highlighted the isolation into which the country has dragged itself. They also threw into stark contrast the much greater international sympathy that other regional players have managed to earn from the world. The perception of Pakistan as the global problem child now exists from the highest levels of foreign governments to the average foreign citizen; a recent worldwide BBC survey on the perceived positive or negative influence of various countries ranked Pakistan second from the bottom.

So in one corner we see an obstinate Pakistan stalling on Nato supply routes, demanding an apology over Salala and failing to communicate successfully to the world why it is not going after certain safe havens. In the other corner there is an America that has ramped up drone attacks in the face of categorical Pakistani objections and is making aggressive public statements in India and Afghanistan. After 9/11, the two countries had a chance to forge a mutually advantageous relationship that could also have benefited the region and the world. They are both wasting the opportunity.

Comments (55) Closed

Dr. Imran Wazir Jun 08, 2012 01:40pm
How many independent journalist are in placed in FATA? Not more than couple ... than how many working in North and South Waziristan? None as per my knowledge ... Why you all want everything in black & white? Yes, may be US policy is based on black & white??? International politics never works like this ... always play in grey area. Rest up to you working in Isb, Lhr and Karachi.
Aziz Jun 08, 2012 01:38pm
Miracles of the paid trolls!
cautious Jun 08, 2012 01:50pm
The USA has on numerous occasions expressed various forms of apology -- but you conveniently ignore those and want an "unconditional apology" issued by the President of the USA which isn't warranted since the investigation (which you boycotted) clearly indicated you fired first. You also conveniently overlook the fact that Pakistan assigned responsibility and even "motive" so quickly that it's obvious you didn't even perform your own investigation.
Sikander Jun 08, 2012 03:26pm
One needs to question whether the "cooperation" is the way forward. "Isolation" hasn't happened and will not happen, because the US and other certain entities are not the world. It is a faulty assumption Dawn has made, and an assumption people are beginning to realize. Supporting, aiding, and abetting hostile and violent acts by the US in the region has gotten Pakistan nowhere.
Aziz Jun 08, 2012 01:35pm
There are boots in Afghanistan for the last 10 years! Result?
S Ahuluwalia Jun 08, 2012 03:51pm
Most of Pakistani think that US is leaving in 2014 but it is not true. They already declared that US forces foot print will stay until 2024 & beyond. Major forces will go back but US will never leave Afghanistan entirely. Look at history after WW2. They are still in Japan,Germany & more than 100 nation. Once US forces in they hardly leave forever. Learn to live with facts not fiction.
Dr. D. Prithipaul Jun 08, 2012 10:43pm
The bitterness about most comments being anti-Pakistan refers to this: with whom or with what has Pakistan been genuinely pro?
Godaveri Jun 08, 2012 09:52pm
Rehman, Why did US did not shrae information on OBL, if they did OBL would have been dissapered in to thin air, Pakistan bacame so unpoular in the West and the rest of the world even if you conduct the survey you will get the same result, conducting survey in the PAK tribal area is not the openion of the world it will be the openion of that area.
Jim Jun 08, 2012 09:10pm
Your editorial should have started and ended with Para 2. Rest is unnecessary.
Amir Alwani Jun 08, 2012 08:15pm
Pakistan depend on USA since 1950. You are at their Mercy. To survive in Pakistan as President, Prime Minister or Army Chief you need blessing of America. Your survival depends on America. Beggar does not have choice.
Chuck Hastings Jun 08, 2012 08:09pm
With allies like Pakistan, the United States doesn't need enemies.
Ajaya K Dutt Jun 08, 2012 07:48pm
As he said it very clearly "They cannot be eliminated becasue of safe havens across the border"
tbr Jun 08, 2012 05:00pm
I think the way it was discussed in Chicago by the head of a state (level) by Zardari. A pure blackmail. Jacking up the rate from $250 per truck to $5000 per truck. Was that a joke of some kind or a prank at head of a state level and that too with the superpower ?? Hope common sense prevail with the leaders. A discussion in private at lower cabinet ranks could have made a difference. World is watching with audio and video ON all the time.
p1845 Jun 08, 2012 04:43pm
That's not an ideological difference, but a transactional one. Ideological differences are way too many.
Malak Ghulam Jun 08, 2012 04:42pm
We Pakistani are at this LOW point of our own doing. We are UNEDUCATED, UNPRODUCTIVE, Do not want to SACRIFICE and do not want change and find a better life path. We love EASY MONEY and easy life style.
Solomon2 Jun 08, 2012 04:25pm
I don't doubt that one of the problems the U.S. has with Pakistan is the difficulty of communicating. Some things U.S. officials try to get across simply won't be reported by the Pakistani media. It's just another one of the disappointments U.S. officials have experienced over many years, but it's also a disservice to Pakistanis who are thus kept in the dark about the reasons why foreigners believe Pakistan has failed in its obligations.
Ozzy Jun 08, 2012 01:16pm
Panetta is the US Defence Secretary. He only need's to justify his action and words to the US people. He along with the US government are doing what they think is right for Unitede States and they don't need to account for their actions to Pakistan. It is obvious Pakistan has annoyed US. That is Pakistan's right but it must now face the consequences of it's policy. Pakistani tactic of stopping supply line has failed as 6 months later NATO is still functioning. US has made a deal with Central Asia/Russia so that if it comes to it, NATO can pull out of Afghanistan through the Northern Route. Lest we forget that is how USSR pulled out of Afghanistan in 1989. That is the last card Pakistan has, what is it going to do then?
Agha Ata Jun 08, 2012 01:10pm
A lot of people would love this article. That is their habit. Anything against the USA or in favor of Pakistan is always right. I wish you had also given the reasons why Mr. Panetta said what he said. A reasonable reader would agree that he should have said this long time ago. Don't forget that the politicians and the army has harmed this country so much that, now, even Pakistanis are reaching “the limits to [their] patience.”
cautious Jun 08, 2012 01:09pm
It's becoming evident that America has made a policy change towards Pakistan - the American military has been Pakistan's primary supporter and they have essentially said "enough". The drone attacks have increased - the American's no longer consult you on Afghanistan - your President was treated as a second class visitor in Chicago - and the American Congress has tied reimbursement payments to opening of the NATO supply line. The USA new "hard ball" approach has ominous ramifications and the Brits are rushing to Islamabad to try and salvage something before they are put in the awkward position of having to treat Pakistan as a potential enemy. It's time you quit worrying about where speeches are made and pay attention to what the speeches are saying.
NAEEM Jun 08, 2012 11:00am
Panetta and the USA still think that they can act like John Wayne. Why cannot a so called super power elimante a bunch of turban wearing, bearded, stone aged, illeterate men without asking for the help from a third world country like PAKISTAN
Ragu Jun 08, 2012 10:56am
Often, the Pakistani government institutions shield them or lie about them. Drone attacks have come about to tackle the situation of a 'state' not being sincere to its words. It is time for the great nation of Pakistan, full of bright young people, to introspect, rethink its identity beyond hatred, stop killing its neighbors, focus inwards and prosper. Nearly all notorious AlQueda suspects are being located in Pakistan. After initial denials by Pakistani government and press, the killers of Bombay massacre are all proven to be Pakistanis. Just today, the president of the African nation of Mali, made a statement that Afgans and Pakistanis are training Jihadi killers in Mali. Even the Chinese, a reliable supporter of Pakistan, have complained about terrorists getting trainined in Pakistan. Pakistani denials have lost credibility. Its time to act for Pakistani leaders before its too late. No nation can continue in a constant state of conflict on so many fronts. Even the so-called superpower USSR, with thousands of Nuclear weapons, fell part, when its leaders tried to sustain it based only on lies, deceptions, dictatorships, denials, propoganda and conspiracy theories.
M. Asghar Jun 08, 2012 12:19pm
All of this on the part of US is part of a geo-theatre. in this highly strategic region. Pakistan must stand up cooly for its interests against all this with new links in the region and beyond.
(Dr.) B.N. Anand Jun 08, 2012 10:27am
Sir, a very regrettable and pathetic situation where Pakistan finds itself vis- a-vis world game of chess. Chess is indeed a cerebral sport and regretfully Pakistan is most of the time making not strategic moves. Diplomacy does not work on emotions. After OBL, the second in command of Al-queda has also been found in Pakistan and killed in drone attack. It is difficult for the world to reconcile that most wanted international terrorists carrying millions in head money are roaming in Pakistan and the country is not aware of their presence. Yes Pakistan still can come back in this game if it can locate the important associate of OBL, that is Alzwahiri and arrest him or liquidate him in an encounter. That is the trump card with Pakistan. It surely can redeem it's credibility in the eyes of the super power and regain its lost ground. Pakistan has to stop living in denial and become pragmatic in it's dealings. I am sure once this happens, the super power will sing in different tune to Pakistan.
Saad Jun 08, 2012 08:45am
Its exactly what actually US wants to drive Pakistan to i.e. where Pakistan stops co-operating and US gets justification for going aggressive even attacking Pakistan.
Iqbal Ali Jun 08, 2012 12:04pm
Mr. Panetta's outburst goes on to show that the right-wings are right.... and infact we are the right-wings...
Iqbal Ali Jun 08, 2012 12:07pm
i wonder why all the pro-Pakistani comments are disliked here and the anti-pakistani comments are liked... all of them.. not a single exception so far
Sanuj Jun 08, 2012 12:38pm
Just allow boots on ground and see.
Silajit Jun 08, 2012 03:23pm
People are tired of the schizophrenic Pakistani system of the democratic rulers (good cop) and the establishment (bad cop). It is impossible to conduct a conversation with "Pakistan" without hassling one or the other. Everything Panetta said is true. So fix your country and at any rate, stop blaming people for calling a spade a spade.
Cyrus Howell Jun 08, 2012 08:39am
I would share your opinion if I lived in Pakistan.
Cyrus Howell Jun 08, 2012 08:37am
Some international experts have been saying lately they do not believe the Pak Army can defeat the Haqqanis.
ss verma Jun 08, 2012 03:11am
After the verbal thrashing from US, will follow economic thrashing. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Be prepared.
Sam Jun 08, 2012 03:37am
People inside Pakistan dont care about such blunt and useless remarks. Nothing is going to happen or change.We have too much on our plate to worry about for example electricity, CNG, law and order, rising inflation, personal luxuries etc. We all want to enjoy luxurious marriages, luxurious cars and luxurious dressses etc.
shankar Jun 08, 2012 09:03am
Good or bad ,the government is acting according to the will of the people! Second that! I am also sure that the better thinkers in the government know that a stand off with US/NATO is not in the best of Pakistan but their hands are tied by the anti-US public ground swell
SwamyG Jun 08, 2012 05:10am
It is not clear that NATO supply routes issue is stalled due any ideological differences that Pakistan has - there were reports in press, including Dawn, that Pakistan side asked for a large sum of money that US viewed as unreasonable for allowing the passage of NATO supply trucks.
Imran Jun 08, 2012 05:12am
So what else is new. As long as we as a nation do not get our own house in order outsiders will lecture us whenever and where ever they want. Thats just the plain and honest truth. So my dear Pakistani's, lets get our act together and prove to the outside world that we are a proud nation and have it in us to stand tall and not let anyone push us around.
Kalyan Jun 08, 2012 05:22am
I need to point out the following: a) Your editorial is silent on Mr. Panetta's statement that both USA and India must work out their difficulties with Pakistan.He also stated that India-Pakistan efforts to solve our problems is good for the region. I feel this should have also been mentioned in your editorial. b) His statement that USA is running out of patience in Afghanistan could be more out of frustration. I agree that he should have spoken on this privately to Pakistan rather than openly, unless he had already told this in private and found no takers in Pakistan. What does this mean ? Is it a threat to Pakistan ? I have my doubts. These are all pressure tactics. c) It is now in Pakistan's interest to decide on sheltering so called terrorists in Pakistani soil. India has learnt its lesson, when it sheltered LTTE and paid for it by the death of Rajiv Gandhi. Pakistan has also paid for such shelter many times more. I am sure the Pakistan Government understands that. However, due to involvement of its military in such terror activities, no good would come out.
Observer Jun 08, 2012 11:28am
Pakistan needs to set its ego hassles aside and look in the mirror. It should avoid taking false pride in opposing the recommendations of imaginary enemies and thereby getting locked into positions that are suicidal. Right now, if the US said "Don't jump off a cliff" a lot of Pakistanis would respond by saying "We oppose America telling us what to do so we will jump". The ISI's embrace of radical Islam has clearly gotten out of control and instead of confronting the menace for the country's own sake all of Pakistan is succumbing to it in the name of opposing the West. To pick a small example, the fact that Hafiz Saeed is walking free should be a matter of national shame, not pride. The US and India aren't the only ones complaining about Pakistan importing terror, so are China, Afghanistan, Iran, the UK, African countries and the entire world. Wake up and smell the coffee!
A Rehman Jun 08, 2012 06:05am
Putting all blame on Pakistan is not a healthy step. Asking for an apology for barbaric act on Salala check post was not a great deal. Why the US is so reluctant to render an apology? The start of US -India relations on this pretext will be a fatal mistake any US administration can commit with regards to its interest in Af-Pak region. Besides this was not the first time that the US humiliated Pakistan and its state institutions, Operation Geronimo was far more humiliating, but there has to be an end to it. World's perception as stated at the end, is nothing more than a grafted report by BBC. We must keep this in mind that western media is quite capable of minting results of their own choice. Same kind of survey if conducted by BBC in Pakistan's tribal area would yield altogether opposite results.
HUSSAIN Jun 08, 2012 06:11am
Without a complete stoppage of unhuman drone attacks, apologies on Sala inhuman attack and killing of pakistan Soldiers, end plan sharing of Afghanistan with due respects to pakistan sensitivities, selling out for few bucks called CSF or bowing down to the threats of Leon Panneta - the global terrorist, will be suicidal as a nation as this decision will call for civil war inside Pakistan. Therefore, Pakistan must take great care in selling itself out and succumbing to the pressure.
ammar Jun 08, 2012 06:20am
this is america....... its never late . pakistani leader-ship now grasp the motive of saying this ridiculous statment. their is no problem to America in terms of Supply route. they are just making fun of pakistan and the people of pakistan. the matter of fact is that they have used our country in terms to pacify their need and hideous targets. rest is up to the vulnerable Leaders and stake holders of pakistan. May God Bless Our Country.
Anuj Jun 08, 2012 06:21am
Riding any tiger is dangerous - whether gleefully taking dollars and weapons to fabricate an "alliance" with the US in the 80's to fight the USSR; whether retaining "non state actors for strategic depth" (noce word for murder and mayhem in neighbouring countries) post USSR battles; and then acceding to the nuptials post 9/11 , assuming self importance based on strategic geography and closeness as a non Nato ally etc...... getting off each tiger has been definitely a challenge. The security prism that Pakistan sees it's Foreign Relations, and which make it jump onto these tigers again and again needs to be questioned, and chaotic democracy, including fisticuffs in Assembly recently , should actually be seen as the better of the evils, and supported, as it reflects the voters' issues and the slow speed of making decisions in assembly should be questioned, but not by stating or asking for army rule again etc. The Pak US relations can only reach a standstill or improve from here, if the chaotic embryonic democracy is allowed to continue - look how this Parliament has stopped the NATO flow of material , awaiting both an apology and more money for transit - both in accordance with wishes of the people, at least pulse of the public. Good or bad, the Assembly is taking some stance.
Nayeem Jun 08, 2012 06:27am
Rather than brooding on Mr. Panetta's frank outburst,Pakistan should introspect where their priorities have gone wrong..Wasn't Osama hiding in pak?? Pakistani's pride their intelligence service to be the best, how can a terrorist of such an order be hiding under their noses??? certainly the ISI is far from honest..Why no crack down on haqqanis?? having 4.5 lakh strong can drag them out from the cave holding their beards in a day..Certainly it is the strategic depth theory that's bringing down Pakistan.. An Indian friend..
malik62 Jun 08, 2012 06:32am
As the king proclaimed (in the story of snow white and the 7 dharfs) "By The Power Trusted in me by My Self I proclaim you husband and wife ? " , there is no reason to doubt at all or suggest the defense sec Panneta's remarks about Pakistan are his personal and not the USA Govt's sactioned Ones . He is the mouth piece of USA Govt's policy on defense and The power trusted in him by the bank rolling USA Congress ( Upper & lower house together Signed by the Executive ) of Billions and trillions of $ , is more than enough to put shudder in the spines of Pakistani politicians in general and the Pakistani Power house the Defense establishment in particular ..... What will happen now , your guess is as good as any body's . There will be a hue and cry from the department of national Security lords as this is a naked attack on Pakistan's Sovereignty and Gharit brigade will come alive for every TV Talk shows then there will be some crumbs thrown towards the hollow angry generals , admirals and air marshals ( like the Kerry lugar bill scenario) and all be forgotten and the old henky dory bed partners will be eager to visit each other and smooth out the tensions ........ I bet my last dime on this , No One Will Get any apology from USA now or ever and no One will dare to seek one any more ..... When the Boss paying your pay checks says I have had enough of you , the errant servant knows he has reached the end of his string ....... This is what USA Govt is saying via their Defense Sec Panneta
abCD Jun 08, 2012 11:30am
Pak-India is just like bollywood movie. Elder brother chose a path of truth and goodness and becomes well reputed in society ..while younger brother .....!!!!!!!!!! ( No need to write more.....67 yrs history speaks). So far, bollywood makes movies on " BHAI " or Indian politicians BUT once they start on Pak politician ( Zardari, Nawaz, Rehman malik, MUSHARAF, Gilani,......) We will find every movie block buster.
BRR Jun 08, 2012 06:42am
This should not come as a surprise to anyone. The US needs help now if Pakistan wants the US to leave in 2014. Recent Pakistani actions and inactions have contributed to the general perception that Pakistan is not trustworthy. All that talk of sovereignty is meant for NATO and the US while militants from all over the world tun loose in major parts of Pakistan. Thus, no one has any sympathy for Pakistan's double dealing.
pir Jun 08, 2012 06:49am
Honestly, what is government of Pakistan doing to fight the extremism? To get something, you have to give something. The only reason Pakistan is even in the picture is because of its physical location, not because of any particular actions it has taken to curb terrorism.
Sam Jun 08, 2012 11:08am
When he is talking out of frustration in public, he must had enough talk in private. What he saying is that there is still time to act. If not, there is great consequences to follow. I don't read this as an arm attack on Pakistan. It may means, all the funding will be stopped (whether that is for humanitarian or not). Pakistan still has time to act and become trustful ally. It must start going after Haqqani network, Punish culprit of mumbai-event, release the Dr. who aid to find Osama, and Open the NATO passage. This is win-win for Pakistan. Its image will improve dramatically, foreign funding will flow to the country again. Of course, if pakistan can be a REAL democratic country would be great for people of Pakistan. Current govt is seen as puppet govt run by Military and ISI establishment.
Faizullah Khalil Jun 08, 2012 11:38pm
Pakistan by being part of the whole game and being bleeding so hard for the last decade or so is still isolated, let it be. Becuase the more Pakistanis sees bad days the more people in Pakistan will wake up and will start thinking how to put its house in order, A house of independence. In the last 65 yrs, Pakistan has been dependent on others. Time for some good decisions now including tough days but eventually stronger independent Pakistan will came into being.
PirBaba Jun 09, 2012 01:15am
Only if friend had not back stabbed.
PirBaba Jun 09, 2012 01:17am
Shows there are rational thinking people in Pakistan too. It's not as crazy as world perceives it to be.
Nish Jun 09, 2012 02:33am
You forgot South Korea, Iraq, Bosnia, etc.
Nish Jun 09, 2012 02:41am
Keep living in denial but remember ignorance is not a bliss anymore. You can blame anybody for your problems but ultimately reality is something that matters so come back to reality ASAP before it is too late. The problem within Pak is due to garbage they tought in the past so many years after independence and now you have so many people who believe in that extremism. I do not know how Pak leaders are going to change all that but sooner the better. But wait, these leaders are the product of that extremist education, God help you.
Nayeem Jun 09, 2012 07:58pm
That is part of the larger problem,those who are honest about the state of affairs get branded as anti-pakistanis (eg. Nazam Sethi) but those who delude themselves and others,by brandishing their venomous tongues always searching for a foreign hand become instant heroes(red topiwalah).. unless pakis know the problem,finding a solution is impossible.. An Indian friend
afridi ashfaq Jun 09, 2012 09:13pm
USA is a bully, not many countries stand up to them. Pakistan should charge what it likes for transport, if you don't like it use the other route. But that is hurting their pocket. The USA can not afford boots on the ground in Pakistan. What have they done in Afghanistan, they are making peace with people they came to fight. The USA will leave in 2014, there will be a civil war for about ten to twenty years. The USA will start another war some were else, because they need it. Fifty years or so the USA will not be a supper power any more. Look at history it has happened to all the old supper powers. The end is all the same, we will get another bully power.
Anila Jun 09, 2012 11:21pm
This is what happes when foreign plociy of Islmabad is directed by military and religious leaders of Pakistan. A unnecessary escalation of tensions which could be avoided by accepting the ground realities and shrewd dipolomacy.