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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More