Pak-US and Afghan Strategic Dialogue? By Sajjad Shaukat


Pak-US and Afghan Strategic Dialogue

High-level strategic dialogue among the United States, Pakistan and Afghanistan set for scheduled for February 23-24 this year in Washington have been postponed. In this regard, US postponed the talks amid a growing crisis sparked by the arrest of an American, Raymond Davis who was accused of murdering two Pakistani nationals.

On February 15, 2011, like other US high officials, even President Barack Obama urged Pakistan to free Raymond as he has diplomatic immunity under the Geneva Convention. Meanwhile, recently, the visiting Chairman of the US Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry in Lahore remarked that issue of “Davis has nothing to do with local courts as diplomats enjoy immunity…we cannot allow that one incident can break the strong relationship between the two countries.”

Notably, legal experts in Pakistan are of the opinion that Raymond Davis is a murderer who has no diplomatic immunity. Many Pakistanis are suspicious about Davis, who was arrested with loaded weapons, a GPS satellite tracking device, photographs of Pakistan’s defence installations and tribal areas, while American authorities are still silent about his role in Pakistan. In this connection, even western media and renowned newspapers such as The New York Times, Washington Post and the Guardian have also revealed that Davis Raymond is agent of American CIA. This fact shows a greater contradiction between the Obama Administration and their media.

As regards the strategic dialogue, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said in a statement, “In light of the political changes in Pakistan and after discussions with Afghan and Pakistani officials in Washington, it was agreed to postpone the Trilateral Meeting…we look forward to convening a very productive Trilateral Meeting at the earliest opportunity.” He further explained that Washington remains “committed to robust engagement between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States, as we share many issues of mutual concern and benefit from being at the same table.”

Meanwhile in the recent days the US and Pakistani military chiefs had a day-long meeting in Oman, and Pakistan’s Ambassador Husain Haqqani was invited to the State Department for a formal meeting with Marc Grossman, the new US Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Despite all of this, the suspension of talks — with no new date announced marked the latest blow to strained US ties with Pakistan, where Pakistan’s police has rejected the American’s self-defense claim and accused him of cold-blooded murder as a court extended his remand.

There is no doubt that a diplomatic crisis has boiled up between Washington and Islamabad over the detention of Raymond Davis, and the US has stepped up pressure on Pakistan to free him. And the Pakistani government is in a tough situation. The public wants Davis tried and convicted. On the other hand, the United States continues its efforts to free its imprisoned citizen and is now reportedly issuing veiled threats.


Besides the crisis over Raymond Davis, previous history of Pak-US ties proves that Washington has always pressurised Pakistan on a number of occasions. In this respect, it is mentionable that in the aftermath of the November 26 catastrophe of Mumbai, America, while tilting towards India had put diplomatic duress on Islamabad. Setting aside the ground realties that Pakistan, itself, has been the major victim of terrorism, which has been bearing multiple losses in combating this menace since 9/11, with the support of the US, Indian blame game against Islamabad, continued during exchange of information between the two neighbouring countries regarding Mumbai mayhem. While, rejecting Pakistan’s stand that its government or any official agency was not involved in the Mumbai attacks, presenting one after another list of bogus evidence, New Delhi wanted to make Islamabad accept all other Indian demands since our rulers admitted on February 12, 2009 that Ajmal Kasab is Pakistani national and Mumbai terror-attacks were “partially planned in Pakistan.”

In that context, India wanted to avail the Mumbai tragedy in increasing further pressure on Pakistan with the help of America in order to force Islamabad to confess that all the terrorists responsible for Mumbai attacks came from Pakistan. In that scenario, US former Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice and British Foreign Secretary Milliband who had visited India and Pakistan stressed upon Islamabad to take actions against the banned Jamaatud Dawa and the already banned Lashkar-i-Tayba. Speaking in Indian tune, they had also said that the terrorists involved in the Mumbai events came from Pakistan.

In the recent past, IMF decided to sanction loan to Pakistan after American green signal. Past experience proves that economic dependence on foreign countries always brings political dependence in its wake. While, at that critical juncture, our country had been facing precarious financial problem, US-led some western allies compelled Pakistan to accept some Indian false demands.

Another instance of American pressure is that the US is emphasising Islamabad to take action against the militants of North Waziristan. It also continuous drone attacks on Pakistan’s soil without bothering for the sovereignty of our country.

As a matter of fact, we are living in an unequal world order. The prevalent global system tends to give a greater political and economic leverage to the affluent developed countries which could protect their interests at the cost of the weaker countries. Whenever, any controversy arises on the controversial issues, the UN Security Council enforces the doctrine of collective security against the small states, while the five big powers protect their interests by using veto. This shows discrimination between the powerful and the weaker. In this context, it is notable that in 2001, UN had permitted the United States to attack Afghanistan under the cover of right of self-defence. In case of the Indian occupied Kashmir, the issue still remains unresolved as UN resolutions regarding the plebiscite were never implemented because Washington and some western powers support the illegitimate stand of India due to their collective interests.

While elaborating shrewd diplomacy, renowned political philosophers, Hobbes, Machiavelli and Morgenthau agree that the powerful states can safeguard their interest by exerting psychological pressure on the less powerful states. In these terms, a renowned strategic thinker, Thomas Schelling remarks about the US, “coercion to be an effective tool of foreign policy.” Kissinger also endorses politics of bargaining and pressure through threats, coercion and even violence as essential elements of the American diplomacy.

Nevertheless, suspension of strategic talks among the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan are though part of American pressure on Islamabad, but the same will produce negative impact on both the countries, giving a greater setback to the US war on terror. In this regard, Americans should know that Pakistan is still a frontline country and a key state actor for American ‘different war’ in Afghanistan, while the US-led NATO forces cannot win over the Taliban militants without Islamabad’s support. Non-cooperation or any misunderstanding among the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan will encourage India which is already manipulating US war in Afghanistan. In fact, since the US-led NATO forces occupied Afghanistan after 9/11, stiff resistance of the Taliban militants which created unending lawlessness in the country has made it a most conducive place for India to prepare conspiracies to fulfill its secret strategic designs against Pakistan, Iran and China.

Under the pretext of Talibinisation of Afghanistan and Pakistan, Indian secret agency, RAW with help of some foreign intelligence agencies has well-established its networks in Afghanistan. Particularly, India has been running secret operations against Pakistan from its consulates in Mazar-i-Sharif, Jalalabad, Kandhar and other sensitive parts of the Pak-Afghan border. It has spent millions of dollars in Afghanistan to strengthen its grip on the country. New Delhi has not only increased its military troops in the counry, but has also decided to set up cantonments. In this respect, India is using the Border Roads Organisation in constructing the ring roads by employing Indo-Tibeten police force for security.

Moreover, suspension of trilateral talks for a long time is likely to create misunderstanding among these three countries, encouraging the terrorists and especially thwarting American regaional and global interests at this critical juncture when Washington is already facing violent anti-American protests in the Middle East. And wave of resentment against the US is runnning high in Pakistan and other Arab countries.

Nonetheless, importance of the Pak-US and Afghan dialogue can be judged from the fact that in these trilateral annual talks, ministers and other top officials of Islamabad, Washington and Kabul outline progress on issues such as the war in Afghanistan and the campaign against extremism. So these trilateral dialogue must continue and a new date must be announced in this regard very soon as coordination among these concerned states is very essential for eliminating militancy, US war against terrorism, and creating regional stability.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations


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