Ending the impasse benefits the both
It is in the best interest of both the US and Pakistan to restore their relations which hit the nadir in the wake of the killing of 24 Pakistani troops in a Nato attack. What stands in the way is reluctance on the part of the US to accept complete responsibility for the Nato strikes. Despite blaming the incident on poor coordination between the two sides, the Pentagon report suggested that Pakistani troops fired first. Pakistan military rejected the report for not reflecting the reality on the ground and as it was not prepared by an independent body. The continuing standoff is creating hurdles in the fight to root out extremist militancy both in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
With a ban on the Nato supplies by Pakistan the US is finding it difficult to ensure timely supply of vital goods and equipment for its troops in Afghanistan. The diversion of the material through other routes has added to the war expenses at a time when the US lawmakers are demanding cuts in spendings. Islamabad has declined to cooperate in bringing the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table to ensure early peace in Afghanistan. Absence of coordination with the US is also prolonging Pakistan military’s fight in the tribal areas to establish the writ of the state. Suicide bombers meanwhile continue to target the troops, elders cooperating with the government are killed and there is no respite to hostage taking. A notorious wing of the TTP specialising in sectarian attacks is still on the rampage. On Sunday, serious incidents of the sort took place in Bajaur, Khyber and Orakzai agencies while a Shia leader was killed in Karachi.
The US needs to revise its stand on responsibility for the incident. The ongoing standoff between the government and the military establishment has to be brought to an end. In view of the unprecedented hype in anti-US sentiments, the army will need the support of the civilian government as it brokers an agreement with the US on revised terms of engagement on counterterrorism operation and on the identification of the drone boxes. Whatever its other shortcomings are, the PPP government has been the most steadfast of military operations against the terrorists. There is a need, therefore, to end the impasse between the civil government and the military establishment at the earliest.