Govt’s political crisis impeding resumption of US-Pakistan ties


The grave political crisis confronting the current Pakistan People’s Party-led coalition government is also proving to be a major hindrance in repairing the ties between Pakistan and the United States that got strained after NATO air strikes on two Pakistani border posts in November last year.
The political crisis, which has shaken the present government, seems to have eased up a couple of days ago when the Supreme Court (SC) allowed former ambassador Hussain Haqqani, a central character of the memo scandal, to travel abroad. The talk of the capital was that Haqqani’s freedom was the result of some understanding between the army leadership and civilian rulers.
However, the SC’s ordered Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Thursday to appear before it in person, and be formally charged for the contempt of court owing to his failure to write a letter to Swiss authorities for reopening alleged corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari, reminding the civilian government that it was still in the middle of storm.
Almost all world powers are keenly monitoring the evolving political situation in Pakistan and now all eyes are fixed once again at the apex court where Gilani will appear on February 13 to face contempt charges.
Nonetheless, the US is not only keenly interested in Pakistan’s current political situation more than any other state, but it is also getting restless and agitated as the current standoff between the government and judiciary drags on.
The Obama administration’s anxiety is primarily due to the hurdles that the political crisis is causing in the way of reconciliatory efforts being made with the help of the United Kingdom and some other friendly states to win back Pakistani support for the counter-terrorism campaign, which is now at a crucial stage.
US and Pakistani military officials have been locked in intense, behind the scene efforts since the NATO air strikes last year, and their talks seem to have made headway with clear signals from both sides that rapprochement is around the corner.
Pakistan, which closed down its border with Afghanistan for NATO supplies, has indicated that it is willing to unblock the vital supply routes, according to diplomatic sources, with the added measure of taxation on every container.
It is said that there has been considerable progress on some issues such as drone strikes, with both sides close to an understanding on a very limited number of such attacks in Pakistani tribal areas in the future and that too in accordance with the intelligence provided by the authorities in Islamabad.
Then there is the issue of US military trainers which were asked to pack and leave Pakistan in the wake of stalemate between the two sides after the US Marines raid on Al Qaeda chief’s compound in Abbottabad. Reportedly, this problem is also resolved, with Islamabad now willing to allow only a few trainers to come back.
However, despite all these settled or near to settlement issues, there is still a major hindrance in the shape of serious political crisis that has been under the focus of the current PPP-led government, leaving it no time to divert its attention to a complete resolution of the standoff with the US administration.
The Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS), which was tasked to come up with its recommendations for the settlement of Pakistan-US standoff, has done its job and its 35 recommendations are ready to be approved by the joint sitting of the parliament in the form of a resolution that will pave the way for the normalisation of Islamabad-Washington ties, but the session that was supposed to have been held by now is delayed by some more days. The holding of the joint session of the parliament will still be in doubts if the political crisis remained unsettled and thus there will be more delay in the resolution of Pakistan-US standoff to the utter dismay of American authorities.