Monday, 23 November 2015

Pakistan will not be a bed of roses for Hale

Pakistanis have always welcomed the US Ambassadors in Pakistan with the hope that relationship between the two countries will improve eventually. However, the experience has been contrary as the US mantra of ‘do more’ never ends. This often gives Pakistanis an impression that their country has become subservient to the sole surviving super power.
With the US focus shifting away from Arabian Peninsula to South China Sea, South Asia also seems to have lost its strategic importance. Fanning the differences between India and Pakistan, the two atomic powers of the region is playing with fire. The added problem is Afghanistan, where the governments failing in discharging their duties are prompt in blaming Pakistan.
The designate ambassador David Hale has spent some time in Tunisia, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and at the US Mission to the United Nations, with multiple tours in Lebanon and Jordan. In Washington, he has also worked as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israel, Egypt and the Levant, Director for Israel and Palestinian Affairs, and Executive Assistant to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
Designate Ambassador replaces Richard Olson in Islamabad and will also have to work with him closely after his appointment as US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Olson assumes this responsibility at a time when the US and its Afghan allies face resurgent militancy in Afghanistan. Both the diplomats are expected to play a key role in the reconciliation process aimed at ending hostilities between the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban.
One may recall that in the recent past Olson has talked about ending proxy wars. After the ISIS attack on France a question has become too loud, who supports this most brutal outfit? Naturally, fingers are being pointed at CIA and all those countries which are buying crude oil from ISIS. People also fail to understand why this phantom can’t be controlled if many of the super powers are busy in bombing ISIS hide out in Syria and Iraq.
It is also to remind the new Ambassador that in various regions CIA intervenes more in diplomatic issues. Olson’s predecessor Munter, who had been an advocate within the Obama administration for reconciliation with Pakistan, resigned in May 2012. People close to him have said he was frustrated that the CIA and Pentagon taking the lead on Pakistan policy.
Pakistan will not be a bed of roses for Hale as he has to face two of US historical rivals in Pakistan. Both China and Russia are making huge investments in Pakistan. Many Pakistanis have strong feeling that the US has never considered their country an economic partner but used their homeland and armed forces in a proxy war in Afghanistan.
I accept my inadequacy in understanding the US foreign policy but often I am forced to conclude that despite fighting a proxy war in Afghanistan, Pakistan had to hear ‘do more mantra’. Three of its immediate neighbors, India, Afghanistan and Iran are annoyed with Pakistan for towing the US foreign policy agenda blindly. Will the designate Ambassador be able to help Pakistan get its due place in the US foreign policy?

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