He came, he saw but he didn’t conquer. Vice President biden came to Islamabad and tried to say all the right things. The news emanating from Pakistan seems to indicate that Islamabad is not buying most of what he said. The troika of leadership in Pakistan is skeptical of US intentions and leery of American moves in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the post-Wiki era, almso
Pakistan’s leadership does not appear to be convinced with US Vice President Joseph Biden’s clarifications about their concerns, adjudging them to be contradictory to ground realities.
The Vice President of the US made a pit-stop in Islamabad to discuss the endgame in Afghanistan and to explore what would it take to get Pakistan and the Pakistani military establishment to extend wholehearted cooperation to the US and give it a face saving exit from Afghanistan.
Vice President Josepeh Biden is a friend of Pakistan has mens well. However he is often over-ruled by President Obama and his sagacious advice not taken by the US Administration.
Despite his good credentials and obvious good feelings for Pakistan, Islamabad was in no mood to listen to American lectures.
The face-saving exercise entailed words to win over the Pakistani leadership. Joseph Biden tried to dispel some of the Pakistani fears and “misconceptions about US actions and … intentions”. It turns out that he did not have much success in Islamabad.
Pakistan doesn’t want aid, it want more trade. It wants the US to dismantle its protective barriers built up to ward off high quality Pakistani Textiles. This has not happened in a decade.
The US Vice President wasn’tt be able to show progress on the FA or the ROZ, so he extended “support to Pakistan to help strengthen its economy, improve governance and security, and respond to its development needs.”
Pakistan has been losing $20 billion per year ever since the US began its invasion in Afghanistan. There is nothing that the US can offer to make amends for the 30,000 Pakistani dead, or the permeation of the Klashnikov culture into Pakistani society. Islamabad demanded early disbursement of annual US 1.5 billion dollar financial assistance, much of which has been diverted for Flood Relief Activities in 2010 and 2011.
According to reports in the Pakistan media “These apprehensions, which were conveyed by Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani to President Barack Obama, included the perceived US interest in transactional nature of ties with Pakistan; that war on terror had been imposed on Pakistan; alleged violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty by the US; supposed US disrespect for Islam; much-touted American inner desire to defang and destabilise Pakistan; and its supposed indifference to Pakistan’s strategic concerns particularly vis-à-vis India.”
The Pakistanis did not hold back the punches. Islamabad has listed Pakistan’s issues. “A senior official in a background briefing on Saturday pointed to Mr Obama’s security strategy envisioning a greater role for India and Japan for Asian security and stability, and the growing support for Indian bid for UN Security Council’s permanent seat as an indicator of a major shift in the dynamics of world order.” These are the issues that irk Pakistan. It is amazing that Washington doesn’t quiet get it.
If mutual trust has to be built that the US has to drop its India-Centric approach in South Asia and come to terms with the new reality in Pakistan. Pakistan will not allow a Bharati presence in Afghanistan, and will not act against the interest of China. For Pakistan, its prime relationship for the next century is with China not the US. After Premier Wen visited Pakistan, and announced $20 billion in investment, there is nothing that VP Biden can to do match that. US aid will be to further the potency of the Pakistani army so that it can assist ISAF–thats it, nothing more, nothing less. Pakistanis know that. They will not antagonize the Americans–they are simply biding time. Under the table all Pakistanis will be counting 180, 179, 178–days left when the Americans begin leaving Afghanistan. Pakistan will not change direction. Its Foreign policy and long term strategic goals are on track.
Dawn reports that “US ‘exceptionalism’ was evident in this case.
He went on to caution against economically squeezing Pakistan, destabilizing it and disturbing the societal balance. ‘Our message is that do not try to turn Pakistan into a battlefield,’ the official said, mentioning incidents in Karachi, Data Darbar bombing, sectarian strife and bomb attacks as part of what could be described as an international conspiracy.”
VP Biden has rushed to Islamabad tofind out what is going on with the regional conference on Afghanistan and the talks with the Talibs. Mr. Biden is concerned that Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan are working with Afghanistan without US sponsorship. Mr. Biden’s visit is significant as it follows the visit of Burhanuddin Rabbani, head of Afghan High Council for Peace, who met Pakistani leaders to discuss a future course of Afghanistan–all in preperation for announced July pull out.
Islamabad knows that the US is putting the economic squeeze on Pakistan. “The IMF has not released any tranche under its standby arrangement since June and is yet to disburse about $3.5 billion under the programme, while disbursements under the Kerry-Lugar Act are also slow to come. Besides, a large portion of commitments made at a donors’ conference in Tokyo are also yet to be realised. These and snail paced Coalition Support Fund reimbursements have all compounded Pakistan’s economic woes.”All these actions have created a mindset in Pakistan which is not conducive to a “Strategic partnership”. While Pakistan discussed “strategic alignment’ the US was seen as unreliable.
“The foreign secretary underlined that the global landscape was in a flux and that it was necessary for Pakistan and the US to work closely with each other in order to be on the same page on issues of mutual concern and interest.”
Pakistan, which had suffered immensely from the long war in Afghanistan, needed a sustained support from its friends, especially the US, to address multiple challenges. Whether the US would be forthcoming in its help, it was very clear the the Pakistanis would not be swayed by words. Only actions is what Pakistan believes.
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