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

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing 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: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid