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Default Pak-US ties at lowest ebb - 05-04-2012, 08:30 PM

Pak-US ties at lowest ebb

Muhammad Saleh Zaafir
Wednesday, May 02, 2012

ISLAMABAD: Hopes for early improvement in ties between Pakistan and the United States dashed when two high profile visits of top US officials were called off early this week without assigning fresh schedule of their trip to Pakistan.

They are US Marine Corps four-star General John Allen who is commander of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and commander of US Forces in Afghanistan (USFOR-A) and the other is US Senate Committee on Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein. They were scheduled to reach here tomorrow and today respectively.

The General had to meet here Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and other high defence officials while Ms Dianne Feinstein was slated to talk to the political leadership besides other interactions. The unannounced reason for the postponement is stated to be security as the first anniversary of Abbottabad transgression by the US is being observed today where Osama bin Laden (OBL) was eliminated.

With this the visit of Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to the United States and that of US Senate Foreign Relations Committee powerful chairman Jon Kerry to Pakistan have also been ruled out any soon, although the two visits were not fully planned.

Deterioration in relations of the two countries is not getting due attention here in Pakistan as Presidency will host a high level meeting today (Wednesday) to deliberate on the relationship that suffered serious setback during talks in Islamabad last week where visiting US delegation led by President Obama’s special representative for theregion Marc Grossman almost boycotted the proceeding just before its conclusion. The representative of US Department of Defence (DOD) accompanying Marc Grossman didn’t turn up for the last session of the talks. The handling of the talks by Foreign Minister Ms Hina Rabbani Khar was censured by the participants. It resulted in stubborn attitude of the US delegation.

It is understood that United States has shifted its goal posts in ties towards Pakistan. The unconditional apology for the gory incident of Salala is not in sight, financial assistance from the United States has become a remote possibility while the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) have become a proposition that is no more fully acceptable for Washington. Finance Minister Senator Dr Hafeez Shaikh who has returned from Washington after having extensive talks with the various fiscal US and world institutions is extremely depressed about the new trends in dealing with the United States in Pakistan. He is facing great difficulties in tabulating budget for the next financial year. Pakistan’s ambassador for the United States Ms Sherry Rehman who came to Islamabad for the third time, since her posting in Washington in December last, to help her administration for talks with the US visiting delegations failed in persuading officials concerned to follow pragmatic approach in dealing with the United States. She will also attend the meeting in the Presidency besides military command and political leadership.

Well-placed diplomatic sources told The News that Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jailani who hosted useful Corps Group’s meeting here last week consisting Pakistan-US and Afghanistan couldn’t help to make any progress in bilateral relations with the United States in erstwhile talks. ‘The ties with United States have become a tale of missing opportunities since Washington was willing to demonstrate generosity in offering concessions to Pakistan but the same was not availed and since then US has been following harsher approach. The efforts for initiation of reconciliation process in Afghanistan couldn’t take off due to the reasons,’ the sources pointed out.

The sources revealed that US officials are not prepared to budge on the question of Drone attacks. The last week attack was carried out immediate after the return of Marc Grossman’s failed mission to Pakistan who came here after more than four months. The US officials have claimed that the attack in question was conducted on a facility where the explosives were fabricated and they are terming it as ‘bomb factory.’ They have claimed that they are prepared to show the film of trucks movement coming in and going out of the factory before the attack. The foreigners were at work in the so-called factory. The US is in the habit of making such claims after every attack by their Drones.

Sources in the Foreign Office are vehemently denying the impression given by the US. General Allen who is returning to Washington would be meeting Pakistan’s ambassador in the United States Sherry Rehman later this month and is expected to give the mind of Pentagon on the developments with regard to ties with Pakistan in various related spheres, the sources hinted.

The sources revealed that CIA has shared intelligence with Pakistan regarding possibility of Al Qaeda plans to carry out major attacks inside Pakistan. The information is based on documents seized by the US Navy SEALs during the raid on OBL compound in Abbottabad. The intelligence shared with Pakistan revealed that OBL and his second-in-command Aiman-ul-Zawahiri, who took over as Al Qaeda chief immediate after elimination of OBL and other senior leaders of the outfit had planned to mount indiscriminate attacks on Pakistani soil. The intelligence also identified certain targets inside Pakistan.

CIA Deputy Director, Michael Morrell had presented dossier in last week’s meeting to the officials of the host country pertaining to the disclosures. The plans had the approval of OBL that he gave before he was killed, the sources said.
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