The love affair between Pakistan and the United States began back in the early 50s. Since then, their bi-lateral relations have generally been sweet though there were difficulties too, especially in the post-Cold War era, when things blew hot and cold. However, this time, the level of deterioration is much deeper than at any time before. The rot was building up for some time but it was the Raymond Davis episode that triggered temperatures at Pakistan’s end beyond critical limits.
In past weeks, several American functionaries, including the U.S. Ambassador in Islamabad, Cameron Munter and, more recently, Mike Mullen, Chairman, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, have reassured the Pakistani public that there is no love lost as far as the U.S. is concerned, that America wishes to see Pakistan becoming stronger and reaping the fruits of socio-economic development, that it recognizes Pakistan’s sacrifices and has a strong commitment in the region. Such utterances, however, do not cut ice in Pakistan anymore. There is a distinct credibility fatigue setting in, considering that drone attacks are killing innocent civilians every day and the War on Terror has cost Pakistan an estimated $75 billion over the past decade in addition to thousands of military and civilian casualties, whereas the U.S. has not paid Pakistan more than a peanut $10 billion in war cost compensation in this period.
Since it has been stated quite categorically that American drone attacks will not stop, Pakistan should draw some useful lessons from its lopsided relationship with the U.S. and leave the superpower to its own devices to fight the war in Afghanistan which is headed for a disastrous end anyway and more so if Pakistan pulls out its support. One immediate step that is suggested is that Pakistan should cut the U.S. supply lines that enable thousands of heavy containers to drive through Pakistani territory, destroying roads and communication networks and causing disruptions in movement of regular traffic.
It is now time for Pakistan to adopt a coherent and well thoughtout regional stance as a central pillar of its foreign policy because this has been the country’s fundamental weakness all along. Its foreign policy must now be realigned on the basis of a pragmatic realization of the region’s power politics and how this functions in the global environment. Pakistan is a nation of key geo-political significance. Therefore, it must not exist in regional isolation anymore and should not hang on to alliances that rely on the support of distant, non-regional powers because it has a key and harmonious role to play in the region where it belongs.