Words of praise


It was always very counter-intuitive. The late Richard Holbrooke, a career diplomat, was the straight-talking, undiplomatic bad cop. As opposed to professional solider Gen David Petraeus, boss of international forces in Afghanistan, who exudes the kind erudite diplomacy one would expect from a State Department official. Asked about a year ago about allegations that Pakistani spy agencies were maintaining links with terrorist networks, he replied, it is impossible to know about the devil by meeting only angels; that the US had not seen any overt cooperation between the two since some time but

His recent praise of the Pakistani militarys efforts made in the war against terror, while heartening, should not be read more into than what its worth. Itll take another Holbrooke for us to ascertain accurately what the American security establishment actually thinks of the whole enterprise. For what it is worth, the General pointed out the Pakistani militarys considerable advances during the past 22 months in the war effort. Then there was the reference again to that military terminology that is expected of us: the hammer and anvil strategy, Pakistan being the anvil. The effort to squeeze in on the militants, both from southern Afghanistan and Pakistans tribal belt. Though this would, of course, be the optimum strategy displayed by allies, it is still a little odd that the Americans keep accusing the Pakistani military establishment of collusion with the Taliban while constantly sending out feelers to the same. Our Indo-centric defence policy wonks wont budge until the US puts some issues to rest.

Moving on, as the good General admitted Pakistans large military and civil losses during the war on terror, it would also be good to speed up some aid to the country in a crisis the likes of which it has never seen in the recent past. Nothing beats public diplomacy through development aid. Specially if it is visible like perhaps a resolution of our power crisis. Points to ponder for the soldier-statesman that now runs the American military juggernaut.