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‘Defined’ U.S.-Pak partnership a ‘fantasy’: Editorial

Islamabad, Sept. 17 (ANI): An editorial in a Pakistani daily has said a ‘defined’ relationship between Pakistan and the United States appears to be a ‘fantasy’. It said Pakistan has yet to completely abandon Musharraf’s duality of policy, whereby Pakistan is ostensibly a U.S. ally, but supporting Taliban proxies fighting the U.S. in Afghanistan from bases in Pakistan.

U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman met the president, prime minister, foreign minister and COAS during his visit to Islamabad. The discussions ranged over the fight against militancy, the regional situation, drug trafficking and drone attacks. Bu the central issue remained the US-Pakistan relationship, which has seen unprecedented ups and downs in the last two years. In his meeting with President Asif Zardari, Mr Grossman delineated his wish list of what that relationship should comprise of. He wanted it to be enduring, strategic, and “clearly defined”, the editorial in the Daily Times said.

He told the president that Pakistan and the U.S. should work together to identify shared interests and act on them jointly for the benefit of both countries as well as the region.

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf described the U.S. as a major development partner with shared objectives of fighting terrorism. Grossman supported a relationship centred on increased market access and trade, including the bilateral investment treaty that is so far a work-in-progress.

The U.S. envoy’s desire for a ‘defined’ relationship goes to the heart of the matter. Historically, at least two major periods in the relationship can be discerned, with the third struggling to see the light of day currently. The first period was of the Cold War, that lasted until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. During this extended period, Pakistan continued to play its role of a frontline state against communism, receiving in return U.S. and western aid and in the process being reduced to a client state of the US. That began to change in the late 1960s, especially when Pakistan was roiled by an uprising against the Ayub dictatorship in 1968-69.

Arguably, Pakistan’s political scene has failed to settle down on a stable keel ever since. This inevitably had its effects on the US-Pakistan relationship, not always benign. (ANI)