News / Asia

Analysts: Fraying US-Pakistan Ties Imperil Afghan Peace Efforts

U.S. Adm. Mike Mullen, Pakistan Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani during a tour of Northern Pakistan, Jul. 2010.
U.S. Adm. Mike Mullen, Pakistan Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani during a tour of Northern Pakistan, Jul. 2010.
Gary Thomas

Pakistani officials sounded off with angry and categorical responses to Adm. Mike Mullen's allegations that their Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) is backing militant attacks on U.S. targets in Afghanistan.

Mullen sent shockwaves into the already strained relations between Washington and Islamabad by directly accusing ISI of backing a Taliban ally, the Haqqani network, in recent attacks on U.S. targets in Kabul and elsewhere.

Mullen's Pakistani counterpart, General Ashfaq Kayani, denied any ISI support for the Haqqanis and called comments by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff “especially unfortunate” in light of what he called a “rather constructive” recent meeting between the two men in Spain.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar warned that Washington risks losing Pakistan’s strategic partnership in the war against terrorism if U.S. leaders continue to make such accusations.

“You will lose an ally, you cannot afford to alienate Pakistan, you cannot afford to alienate the Pakistani people," said Rabbani. "If you are choosing to do so it will be at your own cost.”

Washington has long accused Pakistan of not doing enough to crack down on militant groups in its territory.

A rocky relationship
The up-and-down U.S.-Pakistani relationship seemed to be on a slight upward curve recently after suffering a series of heavy blows. The arrest of a CIA contractor in Pakistan, repeated U.S. drone strikes on militant targets in Pakistan’s tribal areas, and the U.S. raid to kill Osama bin Laden had soured ties, but there was talk of new cooperation in battling terrorism.

Former State Department intelligence analyst Marvin Weinbaum, now a scholar with the Middle East Institute, says Mullen’s comments reflect official U.S. frustration with the twists and turns of Pakistan’s policies regarding Afghanistan and militancy.

“I think we just were exasperated with the people, particularly with those in the Pakistan military who we thought we had some kind of working relationship with," said Weinbaum. "We thought we understood one another and we've come to the conclusion that these relationships do not work anymore."

Weinbaum said Mullen's comments illustrate U.S. willingness to assume a confrontational stance with Islamabad, whose strategic interest in Afghanistan has always been complicated by concerns about the diplomatic, political and economic inroads made there by its archrival, India.

"[Pakistan] may believe that by using these proxies they are hedging their bets, or redressing what they feel is an imbalance in regional power," Mullen said, alluding to what he calls Pakistan’s policy of using militant groups like the Haqqani network to secure influence in Kabul. "Only a decision to break with this policy can pave the road to a positive future."

Professor Christine Fair of Georgetown University, a longtime expert on South Asian affairs, says there may not much the U.S. can do.

"We do not have a lot of options in terms of the duplicity of the ISI," she said. "We do not have a lot of options in terms of the Haqqani network. We do not have a lot of options with regard to Lashkar-i-Taiba and other militant groups that Pakistan continues to groom. Even though the ISI is very clearly a foreign organization that sponsors terrorism, we are not going to declare it as such."

A pivotal moment

Mullen’s stark comments come against the backdrop of Obama administration plans to pull U.S. combat forces from Afghanistan in 2014 and turn security over to the Afghan government.

The U.S. has also pinned hopes on some political reconciliation between some elements of the Taliban and the Afghan government, and Pakistan has envisioned having some role in that process. Those hopes were dealt a severe blow by the recent assassination of former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani, who led the Afghan High Peace Council. Although claims of responsibility are murky, military and diplomatic fallout raise new questions about prospects for reconciliation between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

Weinbaum, however, believes U.S. hopes for such negotiated political settlement were always misplaced.

“It was self-delusion because we are so desperate to find a shortcut out of this mess that we are in in Afghanistan," he said, explaining that attacks on the U.S. embassy and the Rabbani killing only demonstrate that the Taliban have no appetite for reconciliation talks.

"That we are willing to say that maybe there is a formula out there, a political formula, which could wind this up more quickly," he said. "I do not see how anybody could have taken that seriously."

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid