Feature

How they see us: Why Pakistanis don’t trust the U.S.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's carefully worded statement nearly eight months after the drone strike was really no concession at all.

You call that an apology? asked A.R. Siddiqi in the Daily Times. It’s been nearly eight months since U.S. forces killed 24 Pakistani soldiers “in a targeted or random U.S. fusillade.” It would have been “appropriate for Pakistan to return a bullet for a bullet,” but instead we simply refused to allow NATO vehicles to transit our territory in order to supply their forces in Afghanistan. Finally, last week Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. was “sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military.” But that’s no concession at all. Back in November, U.S. diplomats said they were “sorry” about the deaths, but they refused to utter the word “apology”—and they still have not done so. Nevertheless, the Pakistani government has caved and reopened the supply lines.

In fact, our country now even seems to have accepted some of the responsibility for the soldiers’ deaths, said Farooq Hameed Khan in The News. Clinton’s carefully worded statement also said, “Foreign Minister Khar and I acknowledge the mistakes that resulted in loss of Pakistani military lives”—which implies that some of the mistakes were on the Pakistani side. “Can mutual trust and respect ever be restored in this unstable relationship?”

After all those months of standoff, all we got was another load of “international humiliation,” said The Nation in an editorial. Pakistan had three conditions for the reopening of the transit routes, and none has been fully met. The so-called apology barely qualifies as such, the drone strikes have not been halted, and the fee for using our roads hasn’t been raised. That’s because we let parliament handle the negotiations, said Khalid Iqbal, also in The Nation. That was a “gross error of judgment.” The Americans actually do need our supply routes, and they would have made concessions to secure them, but Pakistan stood firm on its demands for too long, missing “the opportune moment when America was more favorably poised to accommodate Pakistan’s sensitivities.”

If we have learned little, the Americans have learned less, said the Karachi Dawn. As soon as the first NATO trucks began to roll last week, NATO launched another round of drone attacks, killing 20 people. Most Pakistani military officials are actually in favor of U.S. drone strikes: They take out militants who threaten us, and they do it more precisely than our own efforts could. But to appease the Pakistani people, the program must be jointly run, with Pakistani military input. The “sheer insensitivity” of the quick resumption of strikes shows that “America intends to get back to business immediately, and will not let Pakistani concerns get in the way.”

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