PAK-US: Making Hay While The Sun Shines


The Pakistanis play quid pro quo diplomacy better than India does. They know how to promote their national interests while taking advantage of the needs of the US in the Af-Pak region.

The US currently has three tactical needs which it thinks only Pakistan can meet. The first is the maintenance of logistic supplies to the NATO troops in Afghanistan through Pakistani territory. These supplies are presently brought to Karachi by ship and then transported by road to Afghanistan. It is estimated that about 80 per cent of these supplies continue to reach Afghanistan safely and the remaining 20 per cent are destroyed or captured en route by the Talibans. There have been unconfirmed reports that the US is examining the possibility of developing the Chinese-built Gwadar in Balochistan as an alternate port for landing the supplies. The US had reached an agreement with Russia and some of the Central Asian Republics to provide an alternate logistics trail, but no alternate route can be as satisfactory as the one through Pakistan.

The second need is continued Pakistani complicity in the Drone strikes in the Waziristan area directed against Al Qaeda and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). These strikes have been increasingly successful. The US is hoping that if it is able to maintain the present intensity of these strikes, it could permanently weaken the capabilities of  Al Qaeda and the TTP.

The third need is Pakistani help in creating a split in the Afghan Taliban, which might facilitate an honourable exit of the US troops before the next US Presidential elections are due in 2012.

The Pakistani delegation headed by its Foreign Minister Shah Mahmooed Qureshi, which went to Washington for the first Ministerial-level Strategic Dialogue (March 24 and 25, 2010) with a US delegation headed by Mrs. Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, carried with it a bargain list of what it would expect from the US in return for its meeting these needs of the US. Apart from the usual demands for more economic and military assistance and a more active US role in facilitating the resumption of the composite dialogue between India and Pakistan, the bargain list contained two old demands and one fresh one.

One of the old demands related to the grant by the US of nuclear parity to Pakistan by taking the initiative in having the restrictions on civilian nuclear co-operation with Pakistan removed by the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group as the US had done in the case of India. China has been willing to assist Pakistan in the construction of more Chashma-type nuclear power stations, but it has not been able to do so due to these restrictions.

The other old demand related to US pressure on India to scale down India’s presence in Afghanistan.  The new demand related to greater US interest in Pakistan’s water problems for which Islamabad has been increasingly blaming India. In recent months, one could see a vigorous Pakistani attempt to project the Kashmir issue  not only as a territorial dispute and as a dispute (“unfinished agenda of the Partition)  arising from its majority Muslim population, but also as an economic dispute arising from India’s control of the river waters flowing into Pakistan from Jammu & Kashmir. This is a revival of the old M.A.Jinnah’s projection of J&K as the “jugular vein” of Pakistan.

The Pakistanis have a penchant for blaming India for all their problems—-whether these problems relate to the bad internal security situation, the scarcity of conventional sources of energy and of water for irrigation and hydel power. The internal security problems are due to their bad governance and the total lack of development in Balochistan and the Pashtun areas and due to Baloch grievances over the Punjabi dominance of the Baloch economy. Instead of addressing the Baloch grievances, they divert attention from the real state of affairs in Balochistan by blaming the Indian presence in Afghanistan as contributing to the revolt of the Balochs.

Their energy problems are due to the fact that their indigenous energy sources are located in the Baloch and Pashtun areas and they are not able to use them due to the Baloch revolt and the activities of the Pakistani Taliban. Instead of admitting this, they blame the Indian presence in Afghanistan. Their water-related problems are due to continuing differences and tensions between Punjab on the one side and Sindh and the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) on the other over water distribution. They have not been able to reach a satisfactory inter-State agreement on river waters, but they blame the Indian presence in J&K for the scarcity of water for irrigation.

While taking cognizance of the Pakistani demands—old and new— the US has evaded a positive response to the Pakistani demands in respect of nuclear parity, river waters and a more active role by it in facilitating the resumption of an Indo-Pak dialogue. At a time when the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and Al Qaeda’s quest for nuclear material are likely to come up before the nuclear security summit being convened by the Obama Administration next month, it would have been wishful-thinking on the part of Pakistan to believe that it had acquired such an importance in view of the keenness of Obama for an exit from Afghanistan that the US would find it difficult to continue to say no. What Pakistan got at Washington was a   promise of more of what it was already getting—namely, economic and military assistance. Nothing more. There are sections in the Obama Administration who are sympathetic to Pakistani demands for a reduced Indian presence in Afghanistan, but they have not yet been able to decisively influence policy-making.

There was a lot of undeserved pat on the back for Pakistan and an unconcealed lionizing of Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the Chief of the Army Staff, by US policy-makers before and during the Strategic Dialogue without realizing that the newly-accorded importance to Kayani and the Army could further weaken the process of the revival of democracy in Pakistan.

The dialogue was projected by Mrs. Clinton and others as the first major Strategic Dialogue between the two countries, but it was nothing but an opportunistic tactical dialogue by two countries, which hardly share any common values, whose civil societies have no respect for each other and whose relationships are governed more by distrust and suspicion than by genuine mutual admiration.

Whatever Obama and Mrs. Clinton might say, to the ordinary American, Pakistan is the country from which terrorists come and will continue coming. Whatever Quereshi and Kayani might say, for the ordinary Pakistani, the US is responsible for the ills of the Ummah just as India is responsible for the ills of Pakistan.

To talk of a strategic relationship between two States and societies so lacking in shared values, a common vision of the world and mutual respect is to live in a make-believe world.

Annexed is the text of the statement issued in Washington at the end of the Strategic Dialogue.

B. Raman is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: [email protected]


Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
March 25, 2010

Following is the text of a joint statement by the United States and Pakistan on the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue.

Begin text:

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, accompanied by high level delegations, met in Washington on 24-25 March 2010 for the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue.

In conformity with the importance that both the United States and Pakistan attach to taking further steps to broaden and deepen their comprehensive cooperation and to further fortify the friendship between the two peoples, the Strategic Dialogue was elevated to the Ministerial level.

A Policy Steering Group was established to intensify and expand the sectoral dialogue process in the fields of: economy and trade; energy; defense; security, strategic stability  and non-proliferation; law enforcement and counter-terrorism; science and technology; education; agriculture; water; health; and communications and public diplomacy. Sectoral meetings will be held in Islamabad soon.

Both sides exchanged views on the status of bilateral cooperation and decided to continually provide strategic guidance for strengthening U.S.-Pakistan partnership in the 21st Century for realizing the aspirations of their people.

They reiterated that the core foundations of this partnership are shared democratic values, mutual trust and mutual respect. A stable, enduring and broad-based cooperative partnership is in the fundamental interest of both countries. Both the United States and Pakistan are determined to foster goodwill and friendship between their people and engage in mutually beneficial cooperation.

Secretary Clinton paid tribute to the courage and resolve of the people of Pakistan to eliminate terrorism and militancy. Both sides acknowledged the common threat that terrorism and extremism posed to global, regional and local security. Pakistan expressed its appreciation for U.S. security assistance. Both governments committed to redouble their efforts to deal effectively with terrorism and to protect the common ideals and shared values of democracy, tolerance, openness and respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights.

Both sides exchanged views on measures to enhance Pakistan’s inherent capacities to realize the vision of a democratic, progressive state, committed to socio-economic advancement and to effectively address political, economic, development and security challenges.

The United States re-affirmed its resolve to assist Pakistan to overcome socio-economic challenges by providing technical and economic assistance and to enable Pakistan to build its strengths by optimal utilization of its considerable human and natural resources and entrepreneurial skills.

The United States committed to work towards enhanced market access for Pakistani products as well as towards the early finalization of Reconstruction Opportunity Zones legislation. The two governments decided to discuss issues related to the Bilateral Investment Treaty in order to stimulate investment in Pakistan.

The United States and Pakistan discussed creating an investment fund to support increased foreign direct investment and development in Pakistan. Such a fund could provide much needed additional support for Pakistan’s energy sector and other high priority areas.

The United States recognized the importance of assisting Pakistan to overcome its energy deficit and committed to further intensify and expand comprehensive cooperation in the energy sector, including through the Signature Energy Program.

Recognizing the crucial importance of water for human survival and development, both sides decided to add a separate sectoral track in the Strategic Dialogue to focus on water conservation, watershed management and U.S. assistance in water projects.

Pakistan expressed its appreciation for U.S. assistance for socio-economic development that would contribute towards improving the lives of the people of Pakistan.

The two sides comprehensively shared perspectives on regional and global issues. Both reaffirmed the importance of advancing peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi reaffirmed their commitment to a wide-ranging, long-term and substantive strategic partnership between the United States and Pakistan.

To carry forward this process, the next meeting of the Strategic Dialogue will be held in Islamabad co-chaired by Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Qureshi.

B. Raman

B. Raman (August 14, 1936 – June 16, 2013) was Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai and Associate, Chennai Centre For China Studies.

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