NEW YORK - American officials believe that United States' broad security partnership with Pakistan is over, and they are now seeking a "limited" counter-terrorism alliance with Islamabad that will include restricted drone strikes against militants and reduced aid, according to a media report..
Citing unnamed US and Pakistani officials, The New York Times said officials acknowledge this deterioration will complicate the ability to launch attacks against extremists based in Pakistan and move supplies into Afghanistan.
The United States will be forced to restrict drone strikes, limit the number of its spies and soldiers on the ground and spend more to transport supplies through Pakistan to allied troops in Afghanistan, the newspaper cited American and Pakistani officials as saying. United States aid to Pakistan will also be reduced sharply, the officials said.
“We’ve closed the chapter on the post-9/11 period,” an unnamed senior United States official, was quoted as saying. Pakistan has told us very clearly that they are re-evaluating the entire relationship.”
American officials were cited as saying that the relationship will endure in some form, but that the contours will not be clear until Pakistan completes its wide-ranging review in the coming weeks.
The Obama administration got a taste of the new terms immediately after an American airstrike killed 26 Pakistani soldiers near the Afghan border last month, the Times said. Pakistan closed the supply routes into Afghanistan, boycotted a conference in Germany on the future of Afghanistan and forced the United States to shut its drone operations at a base in Balochistan.
Whatever emerges will be a shadow of the sweeping strategic relationship that Richard Holbrooke, President Barack Obama’s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, championed before his death a year ago. Officials from both countries filled more than a dozen committees to work on issues like health, the rule of law and economic development.
All of that has been abandoned and will most likely be replaced by a much narrower set of agreements on core priorities — countering terrorists, stabilizing Afghanistan and ensuring the safety of Pakistan’s arsenal of more than 100 nuclear weapons — that Pakistan will want spelled out in writing and agreed to in advance, the paper said.
With American diplomats essentially waiting quietly and Central Intelligence Agency drone strikes on hold since Nov. 16 — the longest pause since 2008 — Pakistan’s government is drawing up what Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani called “red lines” for a new relationship that protects his country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
An American official was quoted as saying, both countries recognize the benefits of partnering against common threats, but those must be balanced against national interests as well. The balancing is a continuous process.”
First, American officials said, will likely be a series of step-by-step agreements on military cooperation, intelligence sharing and counterterrorism operations, including revamped “kill boxes,” the term for flight zones over Pakistan’s largely ungoverned borderlands where C.I.A. drones will be allowed to hunt a shrinking number of Al Qaeda leaders and other militants.
The C.I.A. has conducted 64 missile attacks in Pakistan using drones this year, compared with 117 last year and 53 in 2009, according to The Long War Journal, a Web site that tracks the strikes.
Noting that some Pakistani officers talk openly about shooting down any American drones that violate the country's sovereignty, the dispatch cited a Pakistani official as saying, “Nothing is happening on counterterrorism right now. “It will never go back to the way it was.”
Any new security framework will also require increased transit fees for the thousands of trucks that supply NATO troops in Afghanistan, a bill that allied officials say could run into the tens of millions of dollars, the dispatch said.
Officials from Pakistan and the United States, according to the Times,  anticipate steep reductions in American security aid, including the continued suspension of more than $1 billion in military assistance and equipment, frozen since the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May.
The number of American military officers, enlisted troops and contractors in Pakistan has dropped to about 100, from about 400 more than a year ago, including scores of American trainers who have all been sent home. Pakistan is also restricting visas to dozens of other embassy personnel, from spies to aid workers.
With Pakistan taking a seat on the United Nations Security Council for two years beginning next month, these officials argued that too much was at stake to rupture ties completely. “It is better to have a predictable, more focused relationship than an incredibly ambitious out-of-control relationship,” said one Western official.