US-Pakistan inching towards plausible solutions
Islamabad: Entire diplomatic fraternity is curious to find out how Prime Minister Gilani will escape the latest notice of indictment from Supreme Court especially when his supposed trump-card Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan stand disfigured and the entire government’s future hinges on Monday’s court hearing.
Many of the western diplomats claim with certainty (not sure whether based on their assumption or information) that no matter what democracy is to remain the course of the day in Pakistan. But in the same breath they also believe that President Zardari might have something left up his sleeves to avoid a roll back of his party government. This way they show the appreciation of President’s crafty political acumen but not without a mention of the graft stories associated with Mr. Zardari.
Will we see some foreign dignitaries visiting Pakistan from brethren Islamic kingdoms of Arabia or someone from western hemisphere via Arabian deserts or will there be another usual late night call from Washington DC to calm the nerves in Pakistani adventurous power corridors? As these questions were being tossed around in many of the diplomatic get-togethers throughout the week, everyone had his/her own theory based on their respective reading of the mood and track record of the country’s top judiciary or the astute survivalist nature of the President and Prime Minister but none seemed satisfied with multiple choices being offered by analysts and experts in these parties.
Our Arabian friends, who usually huddle away from the rest during any such gatherings were also reassuring to all those approaching them for chit-chat by saying in their rugged English that “all iz well”. When probed a diplomat from the holy lands revealed that whatever his government need to do to keep things relatively calm it would do as usual because “we consider Pakistan very dear to our hearts.”
And usually when this topic dried out, one could hear the lingering issue of US-Pakistan relations turning sides amongst participants. A statement of the American Ambassador Cameron Munter regarding the use of Pakistani air space for transporting supplies to NATO/ISAF forces in Afghanistan and its possible repercussions remained under discussion. Before venturing into what was being discussed, let me say this that no matter who, especially after the wikileaks head-spinning revelations, the job of any American ambassador is seen–in fashion world’s metaphor–no less than a show-stopper. Whatever he/she does, says or gestures is enough to churn tons of conspiratorial material on and despite being very sociable along with his amiable wife, Mr. Munter is no exception.
Pakistan and US assisted by intermediaries like Saudis and Britain have reached some sort of working relationship under which not only Drones will continue to fly and fire over FATA (civilians and insurgents alike) but even the road supplies to allied forces will resume via Chaman (Balochistan) and Khyber Pass (Khyber Pakhtoonkhawa), revealed a western diplomat from EU in one of these pool-side gatherings. A claim which western media has made recently but the confirmation (or even denial) of it has neither come from GHQ nor the foreign office of Pakistan.
Therefore, nothing can be said with certainty but after watching the Fox News report quoting an anonymous Pakistani official plus the newly lit-up bureau of investigations report and then resumption of drone flights and attacks in FATA, our sources said that hectic negotiations are underway between Pentagon and Pindi and hopefully by mid April or May not only visa restrictions will be eased for Americans but even the much awaited visits of Marc Grossman or even Hilary Clinton might become possible.
Our sources were of the view that the demand of the GHQ to provide a mapping of CIA operatives inside Pakistan remain to be resolved between the two sides while the rest of things like drone attacks and even exchange of military and technical staff and financial assistance for the military (of course with a new price tag) has almost been agreed upon. Senior officials from the strategic ministries of Pakistan believe that even as of today, when the relations between both the countries are considered to be at their lowest ebb, Americans have got their largest presence of both military and diplomatic staff—second only to Iraq—in Pakistan.
They believe that even after the expulsions from many technical roles and closing of Shamsi base, Americans personnel stand over-subscribed, an issue which might not be pressed once the tactical issues like curtailing the drone strikes to a minimum and providing the details of CIA’s groomed and stationed operatives inside Pakistan is exchanged.
Many observers, however, believe that though drone strikes might become more tactical and coordinated but exchange of operatives’ list might never get materialized. Therefore, they believe that both sides will continue to pursue a prick and pinch policy for the foreseeable future. Knowing their strengths and weaknesses, these observers believe that Pakistani military top brass is taking up this pause between the two sides to not only review the whole game plan surrounding Afghan exit strategy and Indian element but is also rubbing shoulders (both metaphorically and literally) with their ‘strategic assets’ as well as with the antagonists in political and judicial spheres.