Britain to mediate US-Pak standoff
Posted by seumasach on June 8, 2012
8th June, 2012
Pakistan has strongly reacted to the latest statement by United States Secretary of State Leon Panetta that no matter Islamabad’s protests, the drone attacks on the tribal areas will continue. This shouldn’t come as surprise. If the painfully slow negotiations to repair US-Pakistan ties aren’t getting anywhere anytime soon, the main reason is the widespread indignation over the drone attacks in the public opinion, which the leadership in Islamabad cannot afford to ignore.
Of course, it was doubly inappropriate that Panetta made the statement from Indian soil. Equally, it is intriguing that Panetta made the much-publicised statement
of the US “reaching the limits of our patience with Pakistan” in the course of a joint press conference in Kabul with Afghan defence minister Abdul Wardak.
The best explanation that can be given to Panetta’s outburst in Kabul is that he was probably deflecting attention away from the latest air strike by NATO on a wedding party
in Logar province killing 18 civilians. But Panetta couldn’t have overlooked the shift in the regional context, which would make it almost impossible from now onward for Washington to ‘isolate’ Pakistan.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s intention to play a role in Afghanistan; SCO’s induction of Afghanistan as an observer (despite the US’ opposition to the idea); President Hamid Karzai’s visit to Beijing and the emerging Sino-Afghan strategic partnership; Chinese President Hu Jintao’s profound statement on Afghanistan (”We will continue to manage regional affairs by ourselves, guarding against shocks from turbulence outside the region, and will play a bigger role in Afghanistan’s peaceful reconstruction.”); strong push by Pakistan and India
to seek SCO membership; warming up of Russia-Pakistan ties — all these are playing into the US’ predicament in Afghanistan and grating on the American nerve.
The weekend visit by the US assistant secretary in the dept of defence Peter Levy, followed by the arrival of British Foreign Secretary William Hague in Islamabad next week, underscores the sense of urgency
in wrapping up the negotiations on the transit routes so that the schedule of withdrawal of the NATO troops from Afghanistan can be finalized. The crunch time has come
. Whether Hague could succeed where the US failed so far, is the big question.