We hear that apart from US Assistant Defence Secretary Peter Levoy who is already in Pakistan, William Hague, Foreign Secretary of Britain, a country considered to be our ‘friend’ is due to join negotiations in Islamabad, to de-escalate tensions in our relations with the US. However, we have to remember that about two years back, the British Prime Minister David Cameron, during a visit to India, made the following remark, “We cannot tolerate in any sense the idea that this country (Pakistan) is allowed to look both ways and is able, in any way, to promote the export of terror, whether to India or whether to Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world.” This sounded strange, coming from the Prime Minister of a country that had been the biggest exporter and perpetrator of terrorism in its colonial days and catching up on the bad habit, did so again by launching an illegal and brutal invasion on Iraq on fabricated charges, jointly with the world’s leading exporter of terrorism, the United States.

Our ambassador to the US, Sherry Rehman, was quite right to point out the unhelpful and harmful effects of US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta’s recent statement on which The Los Angeles Times commented saying “Panetta’s complaint isn’t new, but his language was unusually bellicose.” Unfortunately, the top US leadership seems to have been placed in its position at least ten years too early, not having had sufficient time to grow up and mature, and that makes two of us. However, I must admit in the present round, the US team has left us way behind in terms of immaturity and childish behaviour.

The US generals also show much the same behaviour-pattern like that of their civilian leaders with the result that even military-to-military relations are in a mess. Chairman US Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Martin Dempsey expresses annoyance over Haqqani network and Afghan Taliban allegedly operating from Fata. He also declares the presence of Al-Qaeda in Fata, and expresses a resolve to follow them wherever they are, which amounts to threatening Pakistan with cross-border operations.

Pakistan has already suffered $ 70 billion economic loss by associating with the US war on terror, and that is without counting the civilian and military casualties of about 40,000 soldiers and civilians killed, whereas the total US aid to Pakistan amounted to a total of $ 60 billion, right from 1947 to date . So, this association with the US has been a loss-making venture for us, and we are not making profits on the war, like US leaders believe and claim. I do not see why Pakistan should increase further its losses, and weaken its defences at the Indian border by transferring soldiers in large numbers to North Waziristan, while the US is reducing its strength, all set to cut loose and run by 2014, leaving a skeleton force of about 20,000 behind while some of its allies are planning evacuation even before that. This of course is in addition to the creation of civil-war like situation in Afghanistan, by propping up a military force consisting mainly of minority Northern alliance people, in a Pashton-majority country, against which there is bound to be a Taliban backlash, the grave consequences of that will also have to be faced by Pakistan.

Coming back to the issue of Nato supplies, in view of the country-wide protests that could emerge, the government would be well-advised not to open ground routes unless and until all conditions have been met which are (1) A proper apology and compensation for unwarranted Salala killings (2) Complete stoppage of drone attacks or handing over of their possession, operation and control to Pakistan (3) An undertaking not to launch cross-border operations (4) Institution of practical measures to prevent, as much as possible, acts harmful to the interests of Pakistan, by Americans, their allies or agents (5) Charge for every truck remaining at $ 5,000 as demanded by Pakistan, with payments made at short, regular intervals (6) All the agreements to be in writing, with nothing left to ‘understanding’ in order to avoid disputes arising due to differences of interpretation. After long periods of yielding to US pressure, now that the authorities have taken a bold stand, and have built up a momentum, it would be suicidal to lose all that through intimidation or ‘persuasion’ because if that happens, we would be left in no position to hold our heads high ever again, in addition to giving rise to large-scale public protests in an already over-heated atmosphere.

S.R.H. HASHMI,

Karachi, June 10.