Snubbed and benched in Chicago, a week ago, at the NATO summit on Afghanistan, the ally from hell, Pakistan is angry — and insulted. And a livid Pakistan is like a maniac with a suicide vest on, grenade in his mouth and a gun to his head. Not to mention, the nukes piled in the garage.
President Asif Ali Zardari, who muscled his way into Chicago representing his country as a Major non-NATO Ally, was more like a nuisance guest, pleading and cajoling for an apology from the host. The apology he wanted was for the Salala incident of November 26, 2011 when US-led NATO forces opened fire on two Pakistani border posts, killing up to 24 Pakistani soldiers. That incident led to Pakistan giving marching orders to the US out of the Shamsi airfield in Balochistan, and the closure of the NATO supply line into Afghanistan. They have remained closed ever since, resulting in a heavier financial and logistical burden on the NATO forces in Afghanistan.
When he couldn’t get either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama to issue an apology, President Zardari got Ambassador Sherry Rehman and even his son Bilawal Bhutto to make impassioned pleas on TV shows, interviews and in addresses to think tanks. It isn’t so much as an admission of mistake that Pakistan wants from the US, it is an admission of guilt that it seeks. That won’t happen, for now. Not when the US presidential elections are just six months away.
Closed door haggling over how much the US would pay for each truck, if Pakistan were to allow NATO supply trucks to resume their movement across Pakistan into Afghanistan, also ran into stumbling blocks.
A grumbling and sulking Zardari headed home to jeers and taunts from the likes of Imran Khan who said that the PPP government had shown no spine and had shamed the country.
Then came the sentencing of Dr Shakil Afridi to 33 years in prison on charges of treason — for assisting CIA in its search for Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.
Dr Afridi was posted in Khyber but his so-called treasonous act (even though his country had committed to assist the US in finding bin Laden) was in Abbottabad, yet he was charged as per the Frontier Crimes Regulations. He was not tried by a regular court, was not allowed a lawyer to represent his case in the tribal court and dishearteningly, did not get the protection of the country he helped. America was left with no option but to issue statements of displeasure from Washington DC.
But the US knows there is one way that Pakistan can be tamed to some extent: by cutting aid. A senate panel voted in favour of a cut in aid to Islamabad by $33 million, that is 1 million for every year of Dr Afridi’s sentence. Senator Lindsey Graham (R) said, “We need Pakistan, Pakistan needs us, but we don’t need Pakistan double-dealing and not seeing the justice in bringing Osama bin Laden to an end.” He even termed Pakistan “a schizophrenic ally.”
Schizophrenia from Pakistan, we understand. When the Indian home secretary sat across the table in Islamabad last week discussing the liberalising of visa procedures between India and Pakistan, he was in for a shock. India had agreed to all that Pakistan had asked for and yet there was no deal.
Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai in Delhi expressed surprise, “We had gone there prepared to sign the document according to what was decided during President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit to India (on April 8).” But Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik had other plans. Now, he said, what he wanted was that the deal should be signed at a political level, when Home Minister Chidambaram visits Pakistan to ink it personally. No dates have been set for that visit so far.
But this is just what Pakistan does best: arbitrariness and flip-flops. And we have seen it right from the days of the Simla Agreement. Shifting goal posts on Siachen and Sir Creek is part of the Pakistani tactic of unreasonableness. Like a petulant child, stamping its feet, pulling at its own hair, contorting itself into hissing rage, Pakistan pursues its foreign policy. Pakistan would better grow up, for the world seems to just have had enough of its tantrums.
Smita Prakash is Editor, News at Asian News International. You can follow her on twitter @smitaprakash