If the statement of a senior US military official is to be believed, the US seems eager to make peace with the Haqqani network. So much so that it is considering handing over the control of Paktia, Paktika and Khost in return for cessation of attacks against the Nato forces. It is understandable that the US is headed for talks, but the same officials heralding the development have also conceded that it is uncertain whether the Haqqanis, — accused of making guerrilla attacks with regular intervals – would accept the offer. Fiercely independent, the Haqqanis seem committed to putting up a fight till the troops are forced out. Most likely, they will not regard even a withdrawal settlement as final.

The US official has referred to Pakistani limitations in the war on terror, saying that Pakistan can take on the Haqqanis but is afraid of retaliatory attacks. There is, of course, no logic in wooing attacks, from Pakistan’s point of view, but the same US official was persistent in recommendation of the attacks, even after acknowledging that retaliatory attacks were a real threat. The seesawing statements on the North Waziristan operation from the Pakistani side have not made matters clearer and the exodus from the areas believed to be under target has caused further worry. The question in most minds is the specific request regarding the military subjugation of the Haqqanis by Pakistan on one hand, while it tries to cut a fairly generous deal with them on the other. Read together, it implies a ticking clock on the withdrawal timetable for Afghanistan, so as to provide some positive impetus for President Obama’s reelection campaign. Where US actions are clearly moulded after US national interests, Pakistan’s are expected to be formulated along the same lines. Increasingly though, these interests have come into conflict with the result that both countries are separated by a wide gulf of mistrust. If the relationship is to be repaired, the US must be faithful in its uniform treatment of those it insists Pakistan deal with with an iron fist and understanding of the very real dangers faced by the populace as a result of the backlash against the iron fist being bought down. The Pakistani side, on the other hand, must make clear its reasons to go into North Waziristan and if support from the nation is required for that which is now inevitable in the larger interest, it must be honestly sought.