Pakistan-US ties a bad marriage: Experts

Last Updated 29 September 2011, 05:08 IST

An Indian analyst described the Islamabad-Washington ties as "a bad marriage", while a Pakistani expert opined: "Dust is there, but it will settle down."

The experts were clear that the tumultuous relationship had not reached a breaking point as backdoor diplomacy was hard at work to calm the choppy waters.

Ties between Washington and Islamabad have hit a rough patch since the May 2 killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.  They dipped further when the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, Sep 22 accused the Pakistani government of supporting the Al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network.
Mullen called the Haqqani network a "veritable arm" of Pakistan's ISI. Pakistan has dismissed the US accusation.

The US-Pakistan ties are like a bad marriage, said Ashok Behuria of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses.

"But leaders in both countries know that a bad marriage is better than divorce," Behuria told IANS.

Noting that Pakistan was cosying up to China and Saudi Arabia, he however said these countries could not generate the resources the US can.

He said mutual inter-dependence is there between Washington and Islamabad and they will continue to work together at least till 2014, the year the US leaves Afghanistan. "Then it may taper off."

Ashraf Azim, president of Pakistan-based Institute of Regional Studies, told IANS on phone from Islamabad that there are periodic tensions between Pakistan and the US.
"These are periodic things. (For) certain issues like security, they will sit down" and talk, he said.

But have the ties reached a breaking point?"No, nothing of that sort. Don't read too much into this," said Azim and added: "Dust is there, but it will settle down".

Rahimullah Yusufzai, a senior Pakistani journalist, said Islamabad-Washington ties may have become strained, "but they are talking, they have not stopped talking".
He said Pakistan has asked the US to provide evidence to support its accusation that its spy agency was supporting the Haqqani network.

The US has said the ISI-supported Haqqani network was behind recent attacks in Afghanistan, including the Sep 11 truck bomb attack and the Sep 13 assault on the US embassy in Kabul.

Describing the scenario as "psychological warfare", Yusufzai said:
"It's public posturing, a lot of public posturing; in the end they will reconcile."
Experts here don't completely subscribe to the Pakistani view.

Savita Pandey, a professor in the Jawaharlal Nehru University, bluntly said: "Pakistan is crumbling and extremely unstable."

She said Pakistan is right now "worked up" and Chinese Vice Premier Meng Jianzhu came to Islamabad on a two-day visit amid the strained ties between Washington and Islamabad.

Meng's Pakistan visit is significant since he holds the charge of the powerful public security portfolio.

"But China can't match the US."She said the current situation has arisen due to the attack on US interests in Afghanistan. "US interest has been hurt and when the US is hurt, it reacts," she explained.

The ties are "not at a breaking point", Pandey said adding, "The US takes a lot from Pakistan and Pakistan takes a lot from the US."

(Published 29 September 2011, 05:08 IST)

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