By Konstantin Garibov
Judging by the recent developments, the time when the US and Pakistan were close allies is now over. At least, “The New York Times”, quoting unnamed US top officials, says that Islamabad has made it clear that it intends to reconsider its cooperation with Washington in all spheres.
In a situation like this, the Pentagon will most certainly have to minimize the number of flights by its unmanned drones, which are based in Pakistan, over Afghanistan’s territory. Besides, the US will have to pay more for delivering cargos via Pakistan to its troops in Afghanistan.
In turn, Washington will probably cut its financial aid to Pakistan (which currently amounts to $ 1 bln a year).
The relations between the two countries aggravated after 26 Pakistani servicemen were killed when US air forces shelled a Pakistani border checkpoint on November 26. (Later, the US authorities claimed that the attack was carried out in error). However, even prior to that, in May, Pakistanis were unhappy over the fact that the US had carried out an operation to kill bin Laden on Pakistan’s territory without even caring to inform Pakistan’s authorities about it. In fact, even Pakistan’s top officials learned about this operation only after it was over.
“At present, Pakistan fully depends on US economic and military help,” an expert on Pakistani affairs Vladimir Moskalenko said in an interview with the Voice of Russia. “However, this may not stop Pakistan from breaking off relations with the US.”
“Pakistanis are just tired of the fact that now the US seems to totally ignore the will of Pakistan’s authorities. The latter still welcome US help – but, of course, not at the cost of their will being ignored. They believe that they have the right to be respected, because when US forces leave Afghanistan several years from now, Pakistan will certainly play a more important role in the region.”
However, it doesn’t look like Pakistan will break all of its ties with the US. Their cooperation will be limited to the joint fight against terrorism, stabilization of the situation in Afghanistan and preservations of the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals.
At the same time, US officials realize quite well that with the cooling of their relations with Pakistan, they will most probably lose a number of positions in their dialogue with the Taliban and with another, very similar, terrorist group, the “Haqqani Network.” This group, headed by someone called Jalaluddin Haqqani, operates on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border and is believed to have connections with Al Qaeda. It is no secret that, in fact, Pakistani special services have often taken the role of mediators between US, on the one side, and the Taliban and the “Haqqani Network”, on the other. And, if the US loses positions in its fight against Afghani terrorists, it will have to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan while having to acknowledge that it hasn’t fulfilled its mission in that country.
On the other hand, Pakistani military commanders (who are obviously overpowering in their current confrontation with the country’s President Asif Ali Zardari), are not interested in strengthening of the Taliban.
Thus, it is likely that the US and Pakistan will still cooperate in their fight against terrorism – despite the facts that recently, Pakistan blocked the road used to supply US troops in Afghanistan and that Pakistan’s authorities insist that the US must leave the air base in Pakistan, which the US is using to send its drones to Afghanistan to shell Taliban hideouts.