News Analysis |
On February 8th 2018, Pakistan’s National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq chairing an in-camera meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security stated that US-Pakistan relations have improved considerably.
Opposition Leader Khursheed Shah, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Syed Naveed Qamar, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Mehmood Aachakzai, Aftab Sherpao and other parliamentary leaders of the Senate and the National Assembly attended the meeting and were briefed on current issues of national security and related matters by DG Military Operations Major General Sahir Shamshad, National Security Adviser Nasser Khan Janjua, advisor to the PM on Finance and high officials from the Defense and Foreign Ministry that attended the meeting too.
The Foreign Ministry said Pakistan had asked the US to share intelligence instead of directly targeting the militants in the tribal belt but the US continues to take unilateral action.
The bilateral relations of the US and Pakistan have strained since 2015 but deteriorated further after President Trump’s tweet at the beginning of 2018. To normalize this strained relationship between the two countries, officials from both the US and Pakistan entered into a phase of quiet diplomacy aiming at resolving differences. US Defence Secretary James Mattis’s December 4th, 2017 visit to Islamabad has reflected the US’s desire to improve ties with Pakistan.
The Pentagon’s chief spokesperson Dana White said at a news briefing that this visit was to find a common ground with Pakistan to resolve the issues. Likewise, ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhary expressed his views on this visit that had a positive impact on efforts to rebuild the bilateral relations of the US and Pakistan.
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This reflects the willingness of both countries to improve their relations. It is not only in the interest of both countries but the whole region to ensure the political reconciliations on counter- terrorism strategies and to rehabilitate war-torn Afghanistan. For this, they should work together and negotiate on the same ground.
The United States has made it clear that drone attacks on Pakistani territory will continue until Islamabad “satisfies” Washington of indiscriminate action against militant groups.
If both states continue their non-cooperative behavior, the situation will not be good enough for the entire region and may lead to more severe consequences. On the other hand, a day after Mr. Ayaz Sadiq’s claim on the improved US-Pakistan relations, three suspected militants were killed in a US drone attack close to the Afghan border in North Waziristan Agency on Thursday, sources said.
According to an official of the political administration, two missiles were fired at the compound in the Gorwek area across the border near Zero Point but they claimed that the deceased persons belonged to the Haqqani network. These drone attacks in the region have increased in the wake of President Trump’s announcement of a new Afghan policy in which Pakistan was accused of sheltering terrorists and offering “safe havens to the agents of chaos”.
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Recently, on January 17th, two suspected militants were killed in US drone fired missiles at some locations on both sides of the Pak-Afghan border in Kurram Agency’s Badshah Kot area.
Simultaneously, relocation as a result of drone strikes has widened that recruitment pool of terrorists, as militants have spread to regions to which they previously had no connection.
In another drone strike on December 26th, two people were killed in the Mata Sangar area of Kurram. Later that month, a US drone fired a missile at a compound in the same area without any casualty.
These drone strikes, while unpopular, have bolstered US counterterrorism efforts in Pakistan and have cast doubts on claims that drone strikes are militarily ineffective. Drones are deeply hated in Pakistan due to the civilian casualties, psychological damage and infringement of sovereignty they entail. Growing anti-American sentiment has provided an effective recruitment tool for extremists, fuelling rather than minimizing radicalization.
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Simultaneously, relocation as a result of drone strikes has widened that recruitment pool of terrorists, as militants have spread to regions to which they previously had no connection. Senior officials at the Foreign Ministry stated that the US rejected Pakistan’s protests against the drone strikes, saying Pakistan would have to end such attacks by taking action against all the militant outfits.
The United States has made it clear that drone attacks on Pakistani territory will continue until Islamabad “satisfies” Washington of indiscriminate action against militant groups. The continuous US drone attacks will be a contributory factor in the deterioration of US-Pakistan relations ahead. The Foreign Ministry said Pakistan had asked the US to share intelligence instead of directly targeting the militants in the tribal belt but the US continues to take unilateral action.