During US National Security Advisor Susan Rice’s meeting with the Pakistani leadership, the Haqqani network remained in the forefront. Ms Rice conveyed that they would like Pakistan to do more.

The ‘more’ is not some set of vague objectives, where reportedly very specific steps were outlined for the government, and a very specific reward was also on display; the payment of the overdue $300 million from the Coalition Support Fund. The blunt US pressure coupled with cash incentives hearkens back to an era that the present establishment claims is long over – when a reluctant Pakistan needed to be cajoled and cornered into tackling militant groups that it considered strategically important. Is the return to these pressure politics an indication of the fact that the establishment too has returned to its duplicitous stance?

One version argues that it does. During Zarb-e-Azb and Khyber One, Pakistani military and government officials have been constantly pointing out the fact that distinctions between ‘good and bad Taliban’ are over, using statements and testimonies provided by foreign dignitaries and rights groups to corroborate its claims. It can be argued that if these foreign sources were considered credible when they commended Pakistan’s efforts then they should also be considered credible if they found them wanting. The steadily building US pressure would thus indicate that Pakistan has not given up on its dual criteria on terrorism – a statement that becomes more believable when the concerned group is the Haqqani Network; an infamously state patronised group. With Punjabi “charities” and other sectarian groups still walking in the broad sunlight in the midst of am “unprecedented crackdown”, these arguments become more believable. Pakistan has singed more than its fingers playing with this menace, and if it remains committed to this flawed policy than it is surely consigning thousands of innocent men, women and children to death.

The same US delegation has praised the establishment for its efforts in other sectors of militancy and has promised continued cooperation and Aid, creating a contradictory picture of Pakistani activity. The military too was quick to hit back, saying that curbing terrorism in Afghanistan is not its solely its responsibility, and that other actors – like Afghanistan and the US – must play their part too.
The US statements come at a time when the schism between Pakistan and Afghanistan has grown considerably, and the US government is looking for ways to eventually dial back its aid to Pakistan – as witnessed by the delay in CSF payments. In this scenario, perhaps the pressure is a political tool rather than a tool seeking true policy change. The tragedy is, that the Pakistani establishment’s past double dealings make it extremely easy to believe a narrative against them.