Pakistan rethinks U.S. relationship

In spite of a visit by Sen. John Kerry, Pakistanis are not reassured that the U.S. understands its rage over the raid in Abbottabad.

The U.S. claims to understand Pakistan’s outrage over the raid on Abbottabad—but does it? asked the Islamabad News in an editorial. On a visit to Pakistan this week to discuss the ramifications of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, Sen. John Kerry did little to reassure Pakistanis beyond saying that the bonds that tie our two countries together were strong enough to weather this difficult period. He refused to apologize for the raid, insisting that bin Laden himself had violated Pakistani sovereignty first, by hiding out in a military garrison town. Most ominously, Kerry “did not say that America would not act unilaterally again.” For most Pakistanis, that’s not good enough. Some lawmakers are even starting to call for Pakistan to reject U.S. aid.

At least our own leaders are taking the situation seriously, said the Islamabad Nation. Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, President Asif Ali Zardari, and Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani emerged from a meeting last week unanimous in their resolve that the U.S. “must be stopped” from carrying out such “acts of naked aggression” in the future. The Abbottabad episode has brought home “the existential danger to our stability posed by the U.S.” One British newspaper is reporting that the U.S. has a plan to take over Pakistan’s nuclear assets in the event of a terrorist attack on any of the sites. “Under the circumstances, there seems to be no better option than to distance ourselves from the Americans and refuse to further cooperate with them in the war on terror.”

How about a little consideration of our own culpability? asked Kamran Shafi in the Karachi Dawn. “Pakistan is exposing itself to disaster by thinking it can run with the hare and hunt with the hounds.” Has the ISI ever actually done a cost-benefit analysis of its relationship with the Taliban, to see whether coddling militants really brings us any gain? Surely at this point the Taliban is a net liability. It’s all very well to get all high-handed and sniff that we will reject U.S. money, but the reality is we can’t afford to. Pakistan simply must come clean and “disgorge the rest of the baddies” who are certainly hiding out somewhere in this country. “Barack Obama is not Dubya”—he is “an intelligent and a thoughtful man” who won’t be easily duped.

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Hopefully, we will soon get some answers, said Mosharraf Zaidi in the Islamabad News. Parliament has just ordered an independent investigation into the double failure of the military and intelligence community. It’s bad enough that our spies and troops failed to detect the presence of bin Laden in Abbottabad. Far more serious, though, is their failure to detect or react to the U.S. military raid deep into Pakistani territory. The inquiry will have to answer “the simplest of all questions: Why has the Pakistani state failed both its own people and the international community so spectacularly?”

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