Can the US deliver on the Strategic Partnership?

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The US and Pakistan will begin a new strategic dialogue next week.There is apprehension and a lot of hope on the side of the Pakistanis.They believe that they can leverage Afghanistan to get parity with Bharat (aka India) and commence a new chapter in US Pakistani relations. The Pakistani list of demands concentrates on Nuclear Technology, arms for the military, trade access, and financial assistance. Pakistan also wants the US to help resolve Kashmir and reduce the Bharati influence in Afghanistan.

Qureshi said the Pakistani foreign minister and US secretary of state should meet annually and the Pakistani foreign secretary and US regional envoy Richard Holbrooke should hold talks twice a year.

“I am also proposing 10 tracks of sectoral engagements in economy:

  1. energy,
  2. defence,
  3. education,
  4. science and technology,
  5. counter-terrorism
  6. strategic stability and non proliferation,
  7. health,
  8. communication,
  9. agriculture and
  10. public diplomacy,”

He said his engagements in Washington would “contribute to a better understanding of each other’s position. We expect the US to understand our concerns both in the realm of security and economic development.” AFP

Pakistan’s ace in the hole is an agreement with Iran, and all the neighbors of Afghanistan. Thus, this is not just a return to the 90s when Iran, and Pakistan were at odds fighting for the same space. This time around, Iran, and Turkey have already created a consensus with Pakistan. Iran and China also supported the London Conference decisions–dialogue with the Taliban, and anointment of Pakistan as a broker of peace in Kabul. Chagrined Bharat is looking at options to withdraw completely from Kabul. Bharat’s retreat from Kabul is inevitable, and Bharat will have to do it before 2011.

.. there were a number of differences between Pakistan and the United States and that while Pakistan had already done too much it was now time for the US to do more as well.

He stressed the need for financial assistance for development, poverty alleviation and prosperity in the country…FM Shah Mehmud Qureshi

The US will surely force Pakistan to take more assertive actions against the ephemeral Al-Qaeda and the “Taliban”.

ISLAMABAD: In a qualitative difference in Pakistan’s approach to the United States, Islamabad will, at the renewed Strategic Dialogue with Washington, seek ‘tangible deliverances’ particularly on its strategic concerns and wouldn’t settle for short-term relief measures.
The fourth round of the Strategic Dialogue on March 24, being dubbed by Pakistan’s foreign policy gurus as the ‘renewed process’, is expected to be one of the most intense diplomatic engagements the two countries had in the recent past.

Major politico-security stakeholders, including several federal ministers, army chief, director-general of ISI, and a number of federal secretaries will leave for Washington on Saturday to attend the meeting. The US representation at the dialogue, upgraded to ministerial level, will be equally strong. The team will be headed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Other members will be National Security Adviser James Jones, Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke and a number of other top officials of the Obama administration.

The level of participation by both sides, analysts believe, is indicative of the desire of Islamabad and Washington to give a new meaning to their bilateral relations hitherto marred by trust deficit. Dawn

“This round is going to determine the future of Pakistan’s relations with the United States,” a top official told Dawn, after attending one of the preparatory sessions aimed at developing a unified perspective among the country’s state organs for this engagement with Washington.

Pakistan is often referred to by Washington as a ‘key regional player’ and a ‘major non-Nato ally’ with whom it eyed a ‘long-term engagement’, but it is probably the first time that Islamabad’s strategists are feeling that the time has come to tell Washington to move on from symbolism and concretely address Pakistan’s core security concerns and its immediate economic needs.

Among the issues on which Islamabad desires solid assurances are protection of its legitimate interests in Afghanistan; normalisation of relations with India, including resolution of the Kashmir issue; end to instability in Balochistan; accepting Pakistan as a declared nuclear weapons state and thereby quashing all rumours that the US was secretly working to defang the country.

On Pakistan’s wish-list is also a strong desire for civilian nuclear cooperation on the pattern of India-US deal. Although Pakistan primarily wants nuclear cooperation to meet its growing energy needs, the issue has a political connotation also because Islamabad doesn’t want to see itself discriminated against and at a disadvantage vis-à-vis India.

Qureshi said the Pakistani foreign minister and US secretary of state should meet annually and the Pakistani foreign secretary and US regional envoy Richard Holbrooke should hold talks twice a year.

“I am also proposing 10 tracks of sectoral engagements in economy, energy, defence, education, science and technology, counter-terrorism strategic stability and non proliferation, health, communication, agriculture and public diplomacy,” said Qureshi.

He said his engagements in Washington would “contribute to a better understanding of each other’s position. We expect the US to understand our concerns both in the realm of security and economic development.”

Strong emphasis from the Pakistani side, senior diplomats at the Foreign Office say, is also expected on market access for its products to US and economic assistance at the dialogue, which now includes new strands like strategic stability, security, public diplomacy and health.

The Pakistani contingent will specifically tell the American interlocutors that the economic assistance needed to be fast tracked to arrest the economic decline believed to have been worsened because of the war on terror. The disbursement of Coalition Support Fund, a mechanism for repaying expenses incurred by Pakistan for supporting US counter-terrorism operations, has been sluggish and so has been the release of funds under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act. Only $400 million has so far been released under the aid legislation enacted last year.

US tells Delhi to back off Pakistan and lay low in Afghanistan. All countries are working on peace in Kabul–except one. Bharat has consistently managed to aggravate each and every one its neighbors, Nepal, Lanka, China, Maldives, Sikkim, Bhutan and Pakistan. Even Bangladesh is extremely angry with Delhi ton immigration, on the Border Security force, and for Bharat’s illegal support for the terrorist among the Chittagong Hill Tracks.

A seminal article that describes the pickle Bharat finds itself in.

http://atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LC12Df03.html

Here is an excerpt from that article.

If Delhi failed to anticipate this shift in Karzai’s order of priorities, it has only itself to blame. Thus, even in the face of impending realignments in the Afghan political and military situation that were obvious to most perceptive foreign observers, Delhi kept up the presence of a few thousands Indians in Afghanistan whose security becomes now almost entirely its responsibility to shoulder.

The malaise of the Bharati foreign policy in Afghanistan and beyond is defined below.

In retrospect, Delhi’s hare-brained idea of a US-led “quadripartite alliance” against China, the “Tibet card”, the dilution of a 2003 strategic understanding with Iran, neglect of the traditional friendship with Russia, the lukewarm attitude toward the SCO, exaggerated notions within the establishment regarding the US-India strategic partnership as an alternative to an independent foreign policy and diversified external relationships – all these appear now like dreadful pantomimes out of India’s foreign policy chronicle of recent years that Delhi would rather not think about.Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar.

Pakistan this year slashed its public sector development programme by over Rs150 billion because of shortage of funds.

Quite pragmatically, Pakistani policymakers are not deluding themselves into believing that their ties with the US will transform overnight and they will gain major concessions. But, they want the process to start.

“The extent to which the US is ready to accommodate our concerns and constraints will be a test of this engagement,” a senior army officer engaged in preparations for the visit remarked.

Senior officials say they will try to carefully use their leverages, which are largely Afghanistan related, to make the most of the dialogue.

Qureshi said the Pakistani foreign minister and US secretary of state should meet annually and the Pakistani foreign secretary and US regional envoy Richard Holbrooke should hold talks twice a year.

“I am also proposing 10 tracks of sectoral engagements in economy, energy, defence, education, science and technology, counter-terrorism strategic stability and non proliferation, health, communication, agriculture and public diplomacy,” said Qureshi.

He said his engagements in Washington would “contribute to a better understanding of each other’s position. We expect the US to understand our concerns both in the realm of security and economic development.”

Discussing the 123 Nuclear deal, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton once said that Bharat and Pakistan have a different histories. That is very correct. For the past five decades, Pakistan was a US ally, a founding member of SEATO and CENTO, while Delhi was a very close ally of the USSR. That’s why the history is different.

Bharat has consistently aligned itself on the wrong side of history. It opposed SEATO and CENTO. it opposed the US on almost everything, voting against US 95% of the time in the US. It tried to ally itself with one of the most brutal dictators of our time Marshall Tito. It befriended Saddam Husein. It opposed the recognition of China, it opposes the one China policy. It supported the USSR invasion of Afghanistan. FM Jiechi reaffirms China’s support to Pakistan on Kashmir dispute.

Since 2001, instead of playing a positive role in Afghanistan, Delhi used the opportunity to ingratiate itself with the worst druglords on the planet. It opposed the majority of the Pakhtuns and aligned itself with a very small minority of the Afghans. Its biggest blunder was supporting Abdullah Abdullah and opposing Hamid Karzai.Karzai sings a new tune: ‘Pakistan is twin brother’. Mr. Karzai has now totally and unconditionally aligned himself with Pakistan–supported by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, China, the US and the UK. Accepting Pakistan as a Nuclear state?

USA Today reports the presence of America’s “Whos Who” prepearing for the strategic dialogue with the Pakistanis.

More than three months after announcing his strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, President Obama got an update this morning from his National Security Council.

Attendees in the White House Situation Room include Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Obama will talk via video conference with top aides in the region, including top military commander Stanley McChrystal and Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.

Here’s a full roster, per the White House:

  • Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
  • Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
  • Ambassador Susan Rice, permanent U.S. representative to the United Nations
  • Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg
  • Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (via video conference)
  • Karl Eikenberry, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan
  • Anne Patterson, U.S. ambassador to Pakistan (via video conference)
  • Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • Gen. James E. Cartwright, USMC, vice chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • Gen. David Petraeus, U.S. Central Command
  • Gen. Stanley McChrystal, U.S. commander in Afghanistan (via video conference)
  • Adm. Dennis Blair, director of national intelligence
  • CIA Director Leon Panetta
  • Gen. James Jones, national security adviser
  • Tom Donilon, deputy national security adviser
  • John Brennan, assistant to the president for counterterrorism and homeland security
  • Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, special assistant to the president for Afghanistan and Pakistan

There is much reluctance on the part of the US to give Pakistan a Civilian Nuclear deal–something that it is reluctant to give Bharat, even after the deals have been signed. The Miami Herald discusses the reasons why Pakistan wants the same deal–it is for “parity”–a concept that got list in the 80s–and has now been resurrected by the Pakistani establishment. The Pakistanis will not tolerate being discriminated against.

Pakistan, however, has other reasons for seeking the deal. Pakistanis, including its political and military leaders, think that the U.S. is plotting to eliminate their nuclear weapons, which they consider an essential deterrent to aggression by nuclear-armed India.

A civilian nuclear agreement should stop such paranoia and encourage Pakistan to consider the U.S. a true ally, much as the Bush administration’s nuclear pact with India helped transform a difficult U.S.-India relationship, Pakistani analysts said.

Although the U.S-India deal still isn’t finalized after more than five years, Pakistan may crave a nuclear deal with the U.S. more to achieve parity with India than for any energy benefits it would provide.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari discussed the issue with U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, who visited Islamabad this week, telling him that the “provision of civilian nuclear technology would go a long way in addressing misperception about the U.S. in Pakistan,” said Zardari’s spokesman, Farhatullah Babar.(Jonathan S. Landay contributed to this article from Washington.)Read more:PakistanPatriot

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