Pakistan’s decision to reopen NATO supply lines after eight months of rancorous exchanges over the killing of 24 of its soldiers by American forces at a border post is a belated exercise in damage control. Precious time has been lost; the few shreds of trust remaining between the two countries have been stretched to the breaking point.
If Pakistanis want to avoid being subjected to America’s ‘Please-Punch’ strategy, they will have to manage their internal fault lines better than they have demonstrated of late. The stresses in the Pakistani-US relationship will remain so long as the military makes strategic decisions and a civilian government meekly endorses them as part of an unshakeable national security paradigm. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went out of her way to say that American interests in Pakistan were not limited to securing short-term operational assistance from the military. The Kerry-Lugar Bill seeking to establish civilian control over the military, and specifically the intelligence agencies, has been a red rag for the Pakistani military. Most of the Coalition Support/Kerry-Lugar funding has yet to become available. Of this $20 million was allocated to the Lahore based Rafi Peer puppet theatre to produce a Punjabi version of Sesame Street. The abrupt withdrawal of the funding is being seen as signposting the American intention to disengage from Pakistan.
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