Pakistani diplomacy – a tour de force
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled halfway around the world Friday for several hours of meetings with Pakistani leaders. Clinton’s brief visit — she arrived just after breakfast and was headed home by early afternoon — was part of the Obama administration’s efforts in recent weeks to leverage bin Laden’s killing during a secret raid by U.S. commandos into closer ties with Pakistan, rather than risk it finally severing the always-fragile partnership.
Administration officials also said they listened to Pakistan’s complaints about the slow delivery of promised military assistance and its desire for other forms of assistance that “they can show as proof of this relationship” to the Pakistani public. “We committed to look at that,” one official said.
Responding to recent reports that Pakistan has tried to solidify its ties with China and other traditional friends as a hedge against troubles with the United States, Clinton said that Americans provide Pakistan with “more support than Saudi Arabia, China and everybody else combined. . . . I’m not sure many Pakistanis know that.”
It was far from the first time the United States has announced an attempted reset. But administration officials traveling with Clinton said that the seriousness of the current crisis had forced both sides to confront the possible consequences of an irreconcilable breach and that the talks were marked by a new level of frankness.
After her news conference at the U.S. Embassy, she was whisked back to her plane and gone before most Pakistanis were even aware she was here.(via Clinton visits Pakistan to firm up new ties – The Washington Post; parts excised /reordered for brevity and continuity).
She expressed Washington’s “strong commitment” to relations with Pakistan. Mrs Clinton said that the US had “absolutely no evidence that anyone at the highest level of the Pakistani government” knew where Bin Laden was and said she would return to Washington “ever more committed” to the relationship. In what correspondents say was perhaps an attempt to smooth ruffled Pakistani feathers over the killing, Mrs Clinton acknowledged the ”sacrifices made every single day by the men and women Pakistan’s military and its citizens”.
Mrs Clinton was accompanied on her visit by the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm Mike Mullen. The pair held meetings with senior Pakistani politicians and army officers to plead for greater co-operation in the war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Having all of Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership in one room was unusual, perhaps an effort to get them talking to each other more.
It is the first such high-level visit to Pakistan since the killing of Bin Laden on 2 May. (via BBC News – Clinton exonerates Pakistan over Osama Bin Laden; parts excised /reordered for brevity and continuity).
Pakistan is preparing for further deterioration, building its non-U.S. alliances and options. For Pakistanis, the Abbottabad raid that killed Osama bin Laden was a vivid demonstration that America does not respect its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The presence of American drones flying into Pakistan’s airspace underscores this all the time. For Americans, the fact that bin Laden was hiding for years in a major Pakistani garrison town surrounded by Pakistani army cantonments and retired officers’ homes confirmed the U.S. view that the country engages in a complex double game of patronizing some terrorists while fighting others. Both sides are right about the other.
Pakistan has seen the United States cut off aid many ties before in the last half century. It knows Washington is capricious. So it is strengthening its alternatives east and west. China is Pakistan’s reliable “all weather” ally. Both Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders travel often to Beijing to ensure close cooperation. Chinese engineers are building highways to link Tibet to the Arabian Sea through Pakistan. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are key Muslim allies to the west. Pakistan has been the kingdom’s largest recipient of aid for decades and Saudi Prince Bandar just visited Islamabad to secure promises of Pakistani troops if the Arab Spring threatens to erupt in the gulf monarchies. A battalion of Pakistani troops is in Bahrain backing up the Saudi and Emirati forces that intervened there this year to crush the Shia protest movement.(via America’s Menacing Pakistan Problem – Brookings Institution; parts excised /reordered for brevity and continuity).
- Clinton defends Pakistan leaders on bin Laden (alternet.org)
- US-Pakistan relations ‘at turning point’ after killing of Bin Laden, warns Clinton – The Guardian (news.google.com)
- Washington Post: Pakistan Has Allowed The CIA to Search The Villa Where He Lived Osama Bin Laden (socyberty.com)
- Hillary Clinton pledges US ‘commitment’ to Pakistan – BBC News (news.google.com)
- Hillary Clinton and Mike Mullen on America’s Problems With Pakistan (thedailybeast.com)
- At tense time for US-Pakistan ties, Hillary Clinton swings velvet hammer (csmonitor.com)
- Osama Bin Laden Raid A Watershed Moment For Pakistan, Says Clinton (huffingtonpost.com)
- Clinton: Bin Laden raid a watershed for Pakistan (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- US-Pakistan ties at a crossroads, Clinton says – San Francisco Chronicle (news.google.com)