News / USA

    Tumultuous Year Strains US-Pakistani Relations

    Ayaz Gul

    Pakistan and the United States have maintained a critical strategic partnership for the past 10 years despite tense relations over the war in Afghanistan and U.S. suspicions that Islamabad maintains ties to militant groups.

    But the past year was a particularly difficult one for the two uneasy allies.

    The deterioration of an already-fragile relationship began in January,  when police in Lahore arrested, Raymond Davis, a civilian contractor working for the Central Intelligence Agency, for killing two Pakistanis.

    Davis claimed “self defense” and was ultimately released.  But the incident unleashed public criticism against the Pakistani government over its oversight of CIA contractors.

    Before the rift had healed, U.S. special forces conducted a unilateral raid and killed fugitive al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, a Pakistani garrison city.

    The covert raid in May plunged the relationship to a new low. Outraged Pakistani leaders, like Pakistan's foreign secretary Salman Bashir, criticized it as an attack on the country’s sovereignty.

    “The fact is that the Pakistani armed forces, they had not been consulted, they were not in the know," said Bashir.

    For their part, U.S. officials questioned how the world’s most-wanted man was able to evade detection for years, living near a large Pakistani military base.

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Islamabad days after the Abbottabad operation to tell Pakistan the way forward for both countries was to step up joint efforts against terrorism.

    "The United States and Pakistan have worked together to kill or capture many of these terrorists here on Pakistani soil," said Clinton. "This could not have been done without close cooperation between our governments, our militaries, and our intelligence agencies. But we both recognize there is still much more work required and it is urgent."

    The powerful Pakistani military came under intense pressure at home for failing to detect both the presence of the al-Qaida leader and the U.S. raid that killed him.

    In response, the Pakistani army ordered U.S. military trainers to leave Pakistan and tightened visa restrictions on U.S. staff.  American officials in turn linked billions of dollars of financial assistance to improved cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

    In late November, the relationship suffered another blow when NATO air strikes on Pakistani border posts killed 24 soldiers.  Pakistan closed its borders to supplies for the U.S.-led international forces in Afghanistan, expelled American personnel from an air base used for drone attacks, and boycotted an international conference held in Germany to discuss the future of Afghanistan.

    Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said parliament is now reviewing the country’s cooperation with the United States.

    “I think one of the major reasons why this year has been a bad year is because there are too many gray areas in this relationship.”

    Cameron Munter, U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, agreed with Khar's assertion that 2011 has been a very difficult year.

    “The best way for us to deal the difficulties we have had is to be honest with each other to try to have more engagement, not less. to work together to discuss the problems we have and to see that 2012 will be better,” Munter said.

    Despite the tense political situations throughout the year, educational and cultural programs have continued in an attempt to bridge the differences through more personal interactions.

    But whether this kind of public diplomacy outreach can overcome the two countries' deep political conflicts remains uncertain.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora