Guest columnist Ahmed Rashid explains why last week's "strategic dialogue" between the US and Pakistan was a significant break with the two countries' troubled past.
Pakistan's military chief (left) did the real talking
When Pakistan's powerful army chief, Gen Ashfaq Kayani, and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi got off the plane in Washington to conduct what was called the "strategic dialogue" with the US last week, they carried a 56-page shopping list asking for money, arms... and more money.
That has been the norm for US-Pakistan dialogues in the past 50 years of an on-off relationship. Meanwhile, the US has always urged Pakistan to fit into its own strategic plans, such as doing more to combat terrorism.
However, this time there was a difference.
The Pakistanis also carried a brief which frankly addressed Pakistan's strategic interests and security needs with regard to India, Afghanistan and sensitive issues like nuclear weapons and terrorism.
The US, rather than lecturing, wanted to listen, even if it could not comply with many of Pakistan's demands.
For the Americans this was a welcome change from the subterfuge, lack of clarity and covert support for militant groups that Pakistan has engaged in in the past.
For the Pakistanis it was a chance to air all their pent-up grievances against Washington and demand to be given the same treatment as arch-rival India.
After 11 September, former Presidents George Bush and Pervez Musharraf carried out a largely transactional relationship. "I will give you an al-Qaeda operative in exchange for two F16 fighter bombers" - was what that boiled down to.
While Mr Musharraf hosted the Afghan Taliban and other extremist groups, as a hedge against Indian influence in Kashmir and Afghanistan, Mr Bush pretended to look the other way. Mr Bush conducted crisis management rather than real engagement.
Pakistan wants to be at the heart of all major negotiations in the region
President Barack Obama promised to put Pakistan on the top of his agenda. Now after 15 months of intense engagement, dozens of visits to Islamabad by American officials and unrelenting pressure, the Obama administration has finally got the Pakistanis to open up.
Now, said officials from both sides, everything was on the table.
That is important right now.
Even though Pakistan may be a crumbling state unable to provide its people with electricity, water, security or jobs, the army's bargaining power with the US has increased dramatically.
That is due to increases in its nuclear arsenal, its stepped-up fight against the Pakistani Taliban after years of dithering and its influence over the Afghan Taliban as the US and Nato prepare to start pulling out of Afghanistan next year.
At the end of two days of talks, Mr Qureshi said he was satisfied as both sides ''move from a relationship to a partnership'.' US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shared his optimism.
However, the real dialogue was with Gen Kayani and the army which had prepared Pakistan's briefs, with no objections from Mr Qureshi or the civilian government.
The army tried and failed to make US acceptance of its major demands as pre-conditions for the success of the talks. The US insisted on discussing every issue and conceded little.
The US offered nothing new, but the most concrete results were reflected in a sector-by-sector dialogue by relevant ministries on each side, as to how the US can help rally Pakistan's faltering economy, lack of energy and improve its agriculture and infrastructure.
The US is providing an annual $1.5bn aid package to Pakistan's civil sector for the next five years.
However, Pakistan will still not get improved US trade access for its textile exports - a key demand to revive its moribund industry and something that would be clearly more effective than just aid.
The military will quickly receive some $1bn in outstanding dues for fighting the war against militants, assured future funding and faster delivery of new weapons including helicopters, F16s and naval frigates.
The Americans rejected Pakistan's plea for a civil nuclear deal like the US concluded with India, partly because of Pakistan's past nuclear proliferation record, but also because Mr Obama could never sell such a deal to the US Congress.
However, this dialogue will continue under a newly formed Policy Steering Group.
The US heaped praise on the army's recent campaign against the Pakistani Taliban, but it was equally tough on the need for the army to abandon its 30-year-long reliance on extremist groups to carry out foreign policy objectives and covert operations against India in Kashmir and Afghanistan.
Pakistan has said it will not act against Lashkar-e-Toiba, the militant group accused of carrying out the Mumbai (Bombay) attacks in 2008 until relations with India markedly improve.
Lashkar was set up and managed by the army's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and India has refused to deal with Pakistan until it curbs the group.
Both the US and Nato now view the Lashkar as a global terrorist group, with cells in Europe and the US supporting the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
The group is accused of carrying out the February suicide attack in Kabul that killed nine Indians. David Headley, a US citizen, has admitted planning the Mumbai attacks and training at Lashkar bases in Pakistan.
Pakistan's economy is yet to get back on track
To India's chagrin, the US has acknowledged that Pakistan has a major role to play in peace talks between Kabul and the Afghan Taliban and that India and Pakistan need to come to an understanding over their mutual competition in Afghanistan.
When Afghan President Hamid Karzai visited Islamabad in early March, he was bluntly told by the army that he would have to remove two Indian consulates in Afghanistan near the Pakistan border, before the army offered him help to talk to the Pakistan-based Afghan Taliban leaders.
For Pakistan, one measure of success of the talks is the degree to which they have rattled India.
India feels snubbed by the US because its officials have not been given access to David Headley. Delhi is opposed to any dominant Pakistani role in Afghanistan and is nervous about any US-Pakistan nuclear talks.
The US will now have to do some fence-mending with India.
However the complex triangular relationship between the US, Pakistan and India depends for success on the US getting the two enemies to talk turkey about their conflicts.
It also depends on getting the Pakistani army to undertake a real rather than an imagined strategic U-turn, because backing extremists of any hue to carry out foreign policy goals is no longer internationally acceptable.
Ahmed Rashid is the author of the best-selling book Taliban and, most recently, of Descent into Chaos: How the war against Islamic extremism is being lost in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia.
Here is a selection of your comments
The Pakistanis have an obligation to their people to ensure they are not left behind in the progress of the coming decades. As Mr. Rashid stated, economic and military support for non-state militants is really distasteful nowadays. Both India and Pakistan need to fully accept how disastrous a war can be, and work towards real compromises on their disagreements. Elected officials owe it to their people. Build healthy institutions. Develop projects that will inspire the people. These billions from the US should go towards bettering the lot of the comman man, not just to the military-industrial complex. We want a Pakistan that is strong and works for the good of the people. The US has now shown their commitment to a lasting partnership with South Asian allies. We hope the leaders of India and Pakistan can work with each other, and silence the hate-filled voices of the past.
Christopher Couture, USA
The trouble with Pakistan-U.S relationship will and always will be the sheer size of India. The U.S will have to tilt in favour of India purely because of trade and economy related reasons. Pakistan can not offer the same, not in the near future at least. The change in the relationship that Mr. Ahmed Rashid talks about, I am afraid, is momentary and like a skilled opportunist Pakistan is making the most of it.
USA has never been a reliable ally to any Muslim Country. Only Pakistan and Turkey have been on US side for a long time causing often internal troubles for the Governments that support or take US side on various key foreign policy issues. It should also be clearly noted that it is the US who with Pakistan's help bred the Taliban to drive out Soviets when they invaded Afghanistan in 1979. And when the task was accomplished US fled leaving Pakistan holding millions of Afghan refugees and the volatile Taliban to tackle who took over Afghanistan to spread their version of Islam suppression women and with total disregard of any thing foreign or non-islamic to be crushed Now it is time US Government and Military must listen and manage Pakistan to give them besides arms much more financial aid to stabilize the economy of Pakistan and help bring about stability and cooperation from India. The alternatives otherwise will not be too pleasant for India nor Pakistan or for the whole AfPak war with Taliban and for the region.
Al Khan, USA
I think Pakistan's request for opening international access for its textile products was a fair one, and would have had a much more favourable & direct effect on its economy & the country, then being provided with financial aid / funding which only burdens the country further. Textile is the engine around which the country's economy is structured and more so reaches / involves the poorest sectors of the economy. Any measures which directly effect / impact this sector would subsequently result / position a large section of the population being favourable / partial towards moving away from the influence of militancy
Zain Hamidi, Pakistan
The relations between India and Pakistan can never be cordial and peaceful in longrun until and unless Kashmir and water issues are resolved on the basis of justice and international agreements .Infact no peace can be established on the basis of coerced diplomacy and illegal occupation of territories in Kashmir,A fghanistan,Iraq and Palestine.Time has come when the world has to ensure peace by taking just and moral positions instead of wicked diplomacy and mean self interests. Otherwise we will keep talking peace, spreading hatred and mistrust between nations and civilizations till the whole world in plunged into a possible third world war losing whatever humans have achieved in past century.
Muhammad Ashraf Chaudary., Pakistan
PM Manmohan Singh looks like the last dove in his last term. The window of opportunity must not be squandered. Indian tolerance may not always remain inexhaustible. American influence and Power is truly sinking by the hour.
F Daruwala, India
Ahmed, I must say, in a world of bias and verbal disgorge, I view this article as a glimmer of hope for what journalism should be. Thanks for representing all sides. This article was inspirational for me. Keep the faith.
Daniel Dorst, USA
Al-Qaeda and Taliban are the main hindrance for underdeveloped countries. One cannot win the war alone with military might, as it is a war of nerves between the fundamentalists and moderate people. The only solution to defeat the militancy is to create job opportunities for the jobless and mislead people, who become tools of Mullahs and commit suicide by act of terrorism due to economic compulsions.
Syed A Mateen, Karachi, Pakistan
The current US administration from the start has tasked itself with rewarding Pakistan's bad behavior. Clinton and Obama continue to take advantage of the fact that as a civilized democracy, India has used diplomacy to resolve issues. The US administration needs to decide whether it will continue its hypocrisy. It cannot lecture and pressure India into not retaliating against blatant terrorist acts executed by Pakistan. Had a massacre like Mumbai occurred on US soil, or US embassies destroyed in Afghanistan, would the US continue to treat Pakistan with velvet gloves? Obama and Clinton can continue to sideline India and pretend that it can just talk it's way to a resolution with India. But under the current administration, the State Department has lost much of its moral credibility in Delhi. By continuing to arm and fund the Pakistanis, the US may be gaining a fair weather ally, but losing a strategic partner.
Both Pakistan and the USA need each other, and the good thing is that both understand each other's compulsions, limitations and requirements. I think no country in the world now USA more than Pakistan. They have been partners in last six decades when many other countries, siding with the US today, were marry-making with the erstwhile USSR.
Khan Jee, USA
I am about half-way through Ahmed Rashid's very well written book "Decent into Chaos," and am always happy to see articles by him on the BBC website.
Mike Smart, United States
The only way forward for Pakistan is to fix it's economy, free it's people, get the standard of living up and stop worrying about India. The Indians do not have the resources, the will or need to go after Pakistan. They have too much to loose and nothing to gain. They do not need another 200 million mouths to feed when the are not being able to feed all of their own. The Generals, should shift the focus to growth and economic development. When the locals have vested interests they will work to protect them. Freedom and Economic Growth is the answer. 60 Years and what has Pakistan achieved.
What a sham! Democratically elected Govt ZERO, Military supported govt ONE. USA once again plays the role of a biased referee... Bad luck India..! Obama won an election on a promise to undo everything that had Bush signature on it...and India would once again be the unfortunate loser.
The Pakistanis are adapt at talking something and doing something else. They are expert in twisting facts and making false claims. The US, which nurtured the Taliban and gave birth to Al Qaeda has to support Pakistan if they need help in pulling out of Afghanistan. India is foolishly supporting the Afghans in spite of the bitter lessons learnt from Bangladesh and Malaysia. The Afghans will back stab India in the future and support Pakistani terrorist groups.The best way to deal with Pakistan is to ignore them and let them perish as a failed state.
S N IYER, INDIA
I am surprised that USA with all the billions poured into Pakistan based on the purported support in eliminating terrorist cells in Pakistan has not been able to get any concrete agreement with Pakistan. It is like tail wagging the dog. here Pakistan seems to have been wagging the USA's tail without delivering any concrete results for the money poured into that country. no success will come in stamping out Taliban till USA realizes that Pakistan will never stamp out terrorist activity as long as it is convenient for them to keep the population stirred up against India.Gvnaga, USA
Solution = Kashmir, Kashmir, Kashmir & water water, water !
Sarzeb Abbasi, Pakistan
By Pakistan's own admission, its government, military, journalists that they use whatever means possible to inflict harm on Indian people, ostensibly to liberate Kashmir and what we believe avenge for the creation of Bangladesh. They do this blatantly, we have lost thousands of lives due to terrorist acts. I rushed to Pune a few Saturdays back a day after the German bakery blast where 17 children who come from different parts of india to study in the university died. Three were friends of my son who studies there, one has lost his hearing and is maimed, he graduated last year and had begun a promising career as a lawyer. i am peace-loving, have friends in Lahore and karachi who I care for, but this cycle of violence has to stop. Organizations like LET have to be brought to heel. In the event there is another attack of the kind that happened in Bombay, the retribution could be severe, and Indians would not mind sacrificing lives to neutralize forces that harm or intend harming Indians and Indian interests.
Who among the power troika can issue guarantees on Pakistan's behalf? (Army, Islamists. 'elected' govt, in that order of authority).And what has been the record of the celebrated US intelligence network in that region? At best, US has been wishing away plenty of things, fatal results notwithstanding.
Chandran Nair, Kerala, India.
US is making a mistake - again - in opening up its purse strings and ear to Pak, when it really needs to open its eyes instead. For decades Pak has hoodwinked the world by "showing" it is against terrorism, only to accept eventually that it never reduced terrorism against India when presented incontrovertible evidence by the west. It always has been acceptance in retrospect, but insincere and vehement denials all along. For its part, US and others have continued to make believe that as long as terrorism was directed only against India, the west was safe. The Mumbai attacks on US citizens, and the fact that all acts of terrorism on the US soil by Islamic radicals have one thing in common - Pak -, have not yet opened the eyes of the US government. Pak's demand of India's friendly gesture as a pre-condition before Pak takes any action against LET is ludicrous and unacceptable because its tantamount to encouraging more terrorism no matter how one analyzes the situation. US must not provide any further aid to Pak without an irreversible and comprehensive removal of terrorism infrastructure in Pak, especially along its western border and in Pak occupied Kashmir. To the Pakistani's and Mr Rashid, its a shame that you extol the political leadership and negotiation presence of the army instead of encouraging and supporting the civilian government. People of Pakistan, just like any other country, will be served better long term with a stronger civilian government controlling the army - not the other way around.
I think US will do what they thinks fit to do and these are all cover up to let people of Pakistan happy that this time US is has surrendered but this never happens...... we know what US has done in 1971 war against India and there promises....
Ahmed Shahzad Saleem, Pakistan
Its a good news with a new aspect. Indeed it is for the first time that Pak-US strategic dialogue was more realistic based with both sides nearly speaking their hearts out. One hopes that both the countries realize the gravity of situation and come to the rescue of each other, Pakistan is a major victim of war on terrorism and needs support of all, US and its allies have to do more. Pakistan needs modern weaponry and more important of all support to deal with the terror victims. Jobs for the people, development of socio-economic structure is desperately needed. Displaced persons, victims of terror are in a fix, not much is being done for them. What should be done of the bomb victims, many have died, many have been made disabled for life. Worst affected are those families who have lost their bread earners, few lakh rupees would not help them, their family stands ruined. World should realize all this and extend all possible support for such victims, perhaps free education for their wards, some kind of stipend, etc may help to some extent. There are many problems which needs to be addressed on priority basis. War against terror needs to be won at all cost, let us all join hands.
Suleman Raja, Pakistan
India must quit Afghanistan because soon Shias in Afghanistan will be bloody target of Talibans. While India is supporting the Shia minority side which will put them in more difficult position (Farsiwans), its better India quit now or face embarrassment when Taliban comes on table with US.
Pakistan doesnt only use Afghanistan and Kashmir for proxy wars against India. This week the newspapers in Bangladesh have extensively reported the presence of Pakistani terrorist organizations in Bangladesh. The Obama administration is right in pursuing a policy of engagement and economic aid, but as long as the Pakistan Army continues to promote terrorism across South Asia, there is no chance for peace and stability to prevail in Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh as well as in Pakistan itself!
Azaan , Bangladesh
I think even if Pakistan's brazen demands were not met by US, the just concluded dialogue with US were a success of sorts for Pakistan. Contrary to what Ahmed Rashid says, it is not clear that US emphasized that Pakistan abandon its use of savage terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) as instruments of state policy against India. Given Pakistan's reliance on LET to wage a proxy war against India, USA's muted reference to LET in the joint statement and other official pronouncements, and denying India access to David Headley (an LET operative) were in part designed to not push Pakistan too hard. And the complex triangular relationship between the US, Pakistan and India depends for success, not on the US getting the two enemies to talk turkey about their conflicts, real or imaginary, but rather, US willingness to use its leverage to force Pakistan to crack down on LET unequivocally and irreversibly just as it has forced Pakistan to crack down on Al Qaeda and now increasingly Taliban. This sophistry that India poses some kind of a threat to Pakistan has assumed a life of its own when the fact of the matter is that it is Pakistan, through its use of LET, that poses a threat to India, the region, and the world.
Let us face the facts even if they offend us and contradict our opinion and beliefs. As for Pakistan and Afghanistan, USA has a history of betrayal. Mr Musharaf claimed (in his book) that he was forced, in 2001, to join the US at "gun-point", what a basis for a long-term strategic alliance. But, infact, Musharaf turned out to be a willing and helpful partner beyond USA's wildest dreams, obviously to prolong his own dictatorial regime. Mr Zardari and Co are more interested in counting dollars than the number of innocent and "not-so-innocent" lives being lost in this fatal strategic alliance with a powerful partner, who considers us little more than an untrustworthy mercenary, apologies for offensively straightforward expressions. As for Pakistan Army top brass, they very well understand that the fuel for the expensive sophisticated vehicles in their motorcades and chartered planes, the lavish interiors of their official and personal accommodations in DHA, in-service as well as post-retirement, all are paid for by the "war on terror remunerations". Finally the poor people of Pakistan, they are extremely important in war on terror, since someone has to die to demonize the "enemy" and justify the war for dollars. They are the fodder of war.
Hence, every institution or person participating in the so-called war on terror sees its interest, in fact survival, in being a part of this costly Pak-US alliance. And to justify and legitimize an illegitimate war, the Taliban needed to be demonized, and hence the death even of a street dog being attributed to the Taliban. However, war with one's dangerously close strategic allies and own citizens are always devastating and costly. Hence the carnage in Pakistan. As far the US, they want to make most of Pakistan's politico-economic and strategic vulnerabilities while carefully conceding no more favours than acceptable for its darling in South Asia, India. Strategically Pakistan is clearly in a precarious situation, with India seeing an opportunity of a lifetime to settle scores with Pakistan wile the latter is bogged down in an unwillingly joined war against its own ex-ally and in fact a large number of its own disgruntled citizens. In fact the very legitimacy of the Afghan ar is seriously questionable. Victory in Afghanistan is not in sight hence the new definitions and measures of "victory" now emerging at different levels and in many circles of both US military and political administration. Interestingly, the USA is seriously feeling the need for a negotiated peaceful solution to the Afghan conflict but is furiously against any Pak-Taliban negotiations or link.
Hence, those who see a promising new opening towards a genuine Pak-US relationship are dreaming of a slave-master, or more bluntly, a beggar-king strategic alliance, which, with apologies, is a stupid self-deception.
Majid Bashir, Pakistan.
I think this article (and its conclusion) is a load of rubbish. The reality, eloquently expressed by the former Pakistani foreign Minister, Mr. Kasuri, is that there is a regional battle (for the control of world's resources) ongoing between major world powers (i.e. the US and China) and Pakistan is caught up in the middle due to its geo-strategic location. Fortunately, the Pakistani establishment (i.e. Army, under General Kayani) has continued to make the right choices so far - by strategically aligning itself (militarily and economically) with China and adeptly playing the delicate balancing 'political' game with the US (and to a lesser extent with India). As far as Mr. Rashid's concluding statement goes, i.e. "backing extremists of any hue to carry out foreign policy goals is no longer internationally acceptable" - this is simply absurd since ALL countries (including India, Israel and particularly the US, which has recently publicly acknowledged its own/CIA's lead role in creating the monster of Taleban in Afghanistan in connivance with the former Pakistani establishment i.e. during the pre-Musharraf era!) have historically and routinely deployed the machiavellian strategy of covertly creating/supporting extremist groups in order to protect/advance their national interests - its just that some countries' establishements are better/more experienced/resourced in playing these 'dirty games' than others as part of which they are able to use/fund their media's support (cf. Mr. Rashid's article above!) to expose/undermine their opponents' tactics(!) - in the case of Pakistan, the aim of this (well known) covert support of 'selected' extremist groups is obviously to protect its (and China's!) geo-economic interests in the region, specifically in Afghanistan and India. Hope this makes sense..
Dr. A. Hussain, UK
History goes in circles for Pakistan when it comes to democratic forces taking roots. Pakistan is yet to learn the fundamental facts that 1) development has to come from its own people and not as a result of handouts from military strategic deals with great powers, and 2) military should always be subservient to democratically elected rulers. America doesn't learn lessons either.
Haridas Ramakrishnan, USA
How should Muslims in the region respond and what they need to do? What the US is trying to do does not require an international relations genius to conclude that US is seeking to do to Pakistan what it has done to Iraq, decimating its military capability and fracturing the country into separate entities. The army who effectively control Pakistan are not stupid, they understand political dynamic at place. Four stars General Tariq Majeed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee said at an international conference in Singapore that cross-border missile strikes into Pakistan's tribal belt are killing civilians and contributing to the popular perception that US military operations in the region are "anti-Islamic". They understand that when the US talks about reforming the Frontier Corps, this is about ensuring that they fight more effectively for US not Pakistan. It is understandable that while the US has a tactical relationship with Pakistan, it seeks a strategic rela!
tionship with India even to the extent of offering a unprfecedent4ed civil nuclear assistance. The billions dollars US aid to Pakistan means nothing if Pakistan eventually fragments into multiple pieces. With NWFP, Baluchistan and Karachi all teetering at the edge, the US has once in a generation opportunity to turn Pakistan into a balkanised hell.
The only supply lines into Afghanistan for US are either through the mountains of Central Asia or through the port of Karachi. Without Pakistan, logistics, the flow of supplies, fuel and other military hardware would soon stop the campaign in Afghanistan. There is no strategic interest for Pakistan to continue to support America's war in Afghanistan. First it allows 65,000 NATO and US troops to permanently occupy a Muslim country creating anti Pakistani government in Kabul. Secondly instead of having a secure western border, Pakistan has to have 100,000 troops permanently supporting the US effort thus taking valuable resources from its more vulnerable resources from it's more vulnerable eastern border with India. Lastly Pakistan has to face the low back of fighting not just its own citizens in NWFP and FATA, but fellow Muslims across the border.
Lastly the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan have to realise that neither brutal dictatorship nor secular democracy can succeed in the Muslim world.
I totally agree that trade agreements are more important than a sheer aid.
And it's a shame that every article like this one becomes a place for Pakistanis and Indians to fight instead of understanding each other's issues and working collaboratively to resolve them. You guys should understand that Pakistan is suffering more from terrorism than any other country in the world. Alienating a country doesn't help anyone. You had one Mumbai we had many. You cannot blame a whole nation for a bunch of few stateless actors. They don't belong to any country, nor culture and religion. And you think depriving a country of its water needs is not a terrorism of some kind? People power and close collaboration is the need of the hour instead of blame game and individual interests.
Seems that US compulsions to get out of Afghanistan have been seized by Pakistan and is blackmailing US into giving all what it wants at the cost of the neighbouring regions.
Peter Shaw., U.S.A.
Pakistan has a selective policy in Paksitan with respect to minorities. By not allowing the Tribal areas to develop, and by allowing Lashkar e Toiba to continue to function, domestic terrorism will continue. Strategic depth, as Pakistan likes to call it, has devastated the Pushtun people. Selective assault on militancy will not take care militancy. And as long as Madrassahs are kept functioning, poverty continues, there will be more recruitment to islamist organizations. Development on the most backward areas, would have to be a serious undertaking in order to solve actual problems. Being paranoid of India and wasting resources on that front have allowed the country to be on the verge of being a failed state.
Naveed Afridi, USA
I think the strategic dialogue between US-PAk was a direct result of local public reaction in and media hype in Pakistan. Pakistan Army and Pro American civil Government did almost everything which USA asked them to do in last one decade in war against terrorism but Pakistan suffered much more than USA but the latter can afford. A layman in Pakistan and abroad understands the consequences of fighting with terrorists and they deem it to be a futile exercise as biggest part of Pakistan is Punjab province and people from Punjab think that they are paying the price of fighting with Talibans near Afghan border and it is nothing to do with them as they are peaceful citizens but Government and Army has been dragged into it due Pakistan's unfortunate geographical location and USA's pressure. At least Pakistan is speaking up now in front of USA which is a good sign but at that the same time USA is a very important ally for Pakistan as Pakistan does a lot of trade with USA and we can not rule out USA's economic presence in Pakistan. Lets hope for a better future for South Asian Region and the world by and large.
Syed Mudassar H Rizvi, London United kingdom
Pakistan needs a strategic depth in Afghanistan simply given that it is a neighbouring country and what happens in Afghanistan affects us directly (we are still hosting millions of Afghan refugees) hence Pakistan's insistence on being involved in the Afghan dialogue is understandable. What is not clear is why the Indians are jumping up and down over the issue? When Afghan is not even a neighbouring Indian country? What business do they have apart from doing whatever they can in Afghanistan that can destabilise Pakistan - an act they have been guilty of over and over again in the country's history. Judging by the comments above, I have to hand it to the Indians - No one does a better job of pointing the finger elsewhere while completely ignoring their own murky history of sponsoring terrorism in Pakistan and shameful human rights abuses in Kashmir. Look at the history, Pakistan may have no doubt used militants as a foreigh policy tool, but India is NOT a paragon of peace either!
Mohammad-Bin-Qasim, Karachi, Pakistan
The policy of states supporting terrorist to promote agenda's have always failed. Be it Taliban or others. Pakistan which helped create Taliban is now fighting against it. Soon we will see Pakistan fighting Lakshar, It is not leading Pakistan or South Asia anywhere. I believe looking at Pakistan's internal dynamics, Nuclear deals wether civilian or otherwise should be kept far away from them. I hope to see Pakistan people getting better access to education and infrastructure. But this is only possible if the leadership in the country starts focusing more on economy and not on military strategies
"Pakistan has said it will not act against Lashkar-e-Toiba, the militant group accused of carrying out the Mumbai (Bombay) attacks in 2008 until relations with India markedly improve." This is an extraordinary statement (if true) where an ally of the US has openly acknowledged its deep relationship to a U.S.-officially sanctioned TERRORIST organization and its own deep ties to Al Qaeda.
Question to be asked - If Americans sponsor Pakistan and then Pakistan sponsors terrorism all over the world does that mean that Americans are sponsoring terrorism all over the world ??
I think it's about time that US should clearly communicate this to the world as well as to Pakistan (By raising up it's so called strategic partnership) that both US and Pakistan have done too wrongs in past three decades particularly to nurture these extremist group to achieve and or safeguard their strategic interest. Both US & Pakistan have done it on the cost of great collateral damage and the adverse effects have obviously hit Pakistan more than the US. If both countries want to deal with or clear this menace there is only one way forward... accept openly that you did wrong and announce openly that you have learnt the lesson and will not do it again...
Junaid Naseer Faroqui, Pakistan
America will keep the fire alive between Pakistan & India to keep its stranglehold in South Asia . The biggest looser of Indo - Pak conflict will be India since it has moved a long way ahead economically and socially hence views the world as its playground. Pakistan only remains a security concern for an average Indian not a world level compitetor.A strong stable Pakistan will be in India's favour, but Pakistani Govt (Army) should realise that education, employment, infrastructure, food , Social Security and employment make a stronger nation not few terrorists groups which are viewed as strategic assets . A few billion here and there would dry up soon.
Himanshu Joshi, India
Can Pakistan ever hope to have an equitable relationship with US? The answer is a big NO. The US will always have a list of things to do for Pakistan. The US never had an equal partnership with any country, not even the UK.
With India, Pakistan can never hope to achieve any peace, one has to look at the other Indian neighbours and their relationship with India to be convinced of the futility of such an exercise. It is simply not in the Indian nature. I think Pakistan would be better off without so called friends like the USA. India and Pakistan must learn to live with each other in peace albiet if they can't stand each other.
Muhammad Ali Malik, Pakistan
Kashmir does not belong to Pakistan or India.It belongs to Kahmiris. Kashmiris are owner of their own state and India and Pakistan have illegally occupied Kashmir. Kashmiris don't need pakistan or India and both these countries should worry about their own people. Who is India and Pakistan to decide about us? We are sick of both the countries.They fight a proxy war in kashmir and kashmiris have become the fodder of these two illegitimate guns. We want to get rid of both these guns.P akistan can't survive by killing people in Kashmir not can it achieve anything out of it. Kashmiris won't die for waters of pakistan.Waters flowing through kashmir also belong to Kashmiris.Only kashmiris have right on them but it is unfortunate that both India and pakistan are exploiting the resouces of kashmir and kashmiris can't use their own water. Pakistan is not willing to give a single drop of water to people of Mirpur where it has built the dam over the graves of Kashmiris. India and pakistan will never feel shame. Kashmiris have become sandwich between India and Pakistan. Pakistani Jihadis and Indian forces are involved in gross human rights violations in kashmir.They are involved in raping women and killing innocent kashmiris. Enough is Enogh.Lay off.
The issue is really Baluchisthan, Baluchistan, Baluchisthan, Baluchistan, and Pakistan occupied Kashmir and when it is going to be liberated.
The tragedy is it the Republicans led by George Bush who established relationship with secular democratic Republic of India, and it is the Democrat Barak Obama who is ruining that friendly relationship with India. The solution is the world's richest & most powerful democratic nation USA should establish a strategic and special relationship with the world's largest democracy India, better than the special relationship has with either Israel on the UK. Also the US should commit themselves to aiding and strengthening democratic India with an aid money of atleast US$5billion annually.
Gopal, New Zealand
Any eastern country would be mad to trust the Americans or the west, after all they lead the world in back stabbing, invading and destroying people opposing them. The indians as usual will cry and moan that the ISI are behind everything bad that goes on in india, the Pakistanis stupidly fool themselves into thinking that the Americans are supportive, they are NOT. they are just using them to finish their dirty work. If the americans pull out of afghanistan then its bad news for the indians there, they might as well leave asap as they will be oliterated by the talibs.
Dawood Ibrahim, UK
This is a good step forward, This will improve the relations of both the countries, and help build positive image of USA inside pakistan. But Pakistan has to really concentrate on quickly resolving its internal and external issues and start building the Economy. Relations with India are most important for both the countries and more for Pakistan as its Economy is in a very bad condition. Both the countries need to build trust in each other.....
Unless Kashmir dispute is settled via talks or otherwise, there can be peace in the region; the very existence of Pakistan is threatened sans an acceded Kashmir or a favourable Kashmir; there should not be any slim doubt about that; Kashmir is Pakistan's need; Kashmir is not the need of India; keeping Kashmir, India holds the death-cord to strangulate Pakistan and Kashmir both at the same time; this is the complex situation in which USA will, if she wants, have to do a role; mere time management won't work at all; the question is what agreement over Kashmir the USA had struck with Pakistan's first Premier Khan Liaquat Ali Khan? that should be revisited by Washington.
Hameed Shaheen, Pakistan
What is being touted as a new beginning is a reversal to the same policy that gave birth to Taliban, Al-Qaeda and the multi-headed hydra called ISI with a plethora of terrorist groups under its umbrella. Till there is a clear understanding that whether it be Taliban or Al Qaeda or ISI, its all rooted in the Pakistan army, its neither a "beginning" not is it "new".
Sam Mukherjee, USA
Pakistan is not a victim of war on terrorism, it should be made to understand this. It made choices since independence. While one can understand US behavior in curbing spread of communism because it had a super power status, Pakistan had no business getting into this cold war fight. Nobody arm twisted Pakistan into anything, in to joining SEATO, CENTO etc. Unlike India Pakistan has bitten into every temptation thrown at it by anybody. It does not believe in keeping commitments. For example it used US procured arms under SEATO & CENTO against India and then blamed US. Even then US supported Pakistan by taking positions against India. It was not US's business to think about how Pakistan should manage Taliban after the end of Afghanistan war. It is not US problem that Pakistan did not grow its industry and create jobs or built infrastructure to generate electricity. How come it is demanding all this from US? How does it consider itself sovereign? It gleefully reared the terror!
ists as a state policy and it conveniently blames US for leaving Taliban to them. There is too much that is wrong with Pakistan. It has indeed become a severe problem and the US did right by listening. The next stage is to get good Taliban in board and that clearly requires Pakistan to act. Another thing Pakistan must learn..it does a little bit of a good job and it gets excited and feels it deserves HUGE rewards. History has shown that Pakistani leadership even though dissipated, is wanting on execution and completion of any action, it talks a lot about everything on earth but unable to do anything. we are dealing with a tantrum throwing child that is in need of some serious discipline.
Ajay Mittal, US
Both Indian and Pakistani politicians are not strong and honest enough to resolve the issues between the countries and thus peace & prosperity still seems to be a distant dream in the region. Like any other country, US always would take care of its national interests first instead of worrying about India & Pakistan. So its only Pakistan and India who can resolve the issue, provided we have strong leaders on both the sides who can make a commitment and resolve to settle differences in an amicable manner and bring real change to the region...
Murthy, United Kingdom
Come on. The real solution lies in Kashmir and the water issues. As long as the international community do not press for a fair and just solution in accordance to the UN resolutions of 1947 there will never be peace. One LeT will be followed by many other LeTs if the core issues are not settled. The Indians however do not peace and seem to want to oppress the people of Kashmir for eternity.
One of the things which I have realised while reading the comments is that some of my Indian friends don't even understand the problems between India and Pakistan. For some reason, they have reached to a conclusion that Pakistani's inherently are India-haters. In reality, the issues between India and Pakistan are purely political and can be solved in that manner. I think we should learn that from Europe, look at UK and Germany, they learn through hard way that the road to prosperity requires corporation and not exclusion.
A Baig, Pakistan
It really hurts when one sees such venomous comments by Indians or Pakistanis. People of both the country should not talk as their politicians do. It is a fact that unless the issue of Kashmir is resolved, peace would always remain illusive. I fail to comprehend that while India claim to be a democracy, it does not agree, as enshrined in various UN resolutions, to give the Kashmiri people their right of self-determinination. Similarly, Pakistan also, while mustering support for the Kashmiri people, needs to desist from tactics that are against international norms. People of both these countries, instead of expecting world powers that have their own compulsions and interests, to provide panacea for all their ills should force their governments to act as civilized societies must do. The fruit of reconciliation and accommodation for the poor and hapless masses of both the countries are enormous and the conflict only suits the politicians and generals of these countries.
b>Fayyaz Ali Khan, Pakistan
The US and UK have interests in Afghanistan as it gives them a foothold to destabilise Iran. What Pakistan or India want is of no consequence to them. The appeasement of Pakistan is a short term strategic measure to win its cooperation. The underlying issues are being swept under the carpet and opportunism is visible everywhere. The policy of strategic depth long adopted by the main player continues unabated. Afghanistan is a playground but it will bury the players there. America, UK, Pakistan, Iran, India, China and Russia will all eat humble Pie there. Giving Aid and weapons to countries where 90% of the population hates you is not just short sighted but foolish and stupid too.
David Smith, UK
I think the story behind these talks is an old one - US once again needs Pakistan as it is clearly seeing that it can never win in Afghanistan. After 9/11 and US invasion of Afghanistan, Indian, Israeli and CIA assets are continuously using Afghan soil to create 'so-called' Taliban and trying to destabilize Pakistan. But it seems that after all these years, despite many terrorist attacks and corrupt government in Pakistan, their plan is finally starting to fail. And as US economy is badly effected by this war, like USSR, they once again need Pakistan to do something - may be help them to get a safe exit, or something else. The situation is not very clear, but one thing is for sure that US needs Pakistan once again and Pakistanis are making use of it - and they should!
Hammad Mansoor, Pakistan
I think the only reason of lack of optimism on Indian side is because of its media - which earns billions of $$ by keeping the Indian mindset towards negativity and every second channel wants to be on top of that. I appreciate Times of India of taking a brave step for talking peace.
C Baram, India
China-Taiwan model is the appropriate model for India and Pakistan. Even though China and Taiwan have disputes but they are not using violence to resolve them. Instead, they are focusing on economy and are generating enormous wealth for their citizens.
Anil Bansal, USA
It is tragic that Americans refuse to learn lesson from the past. Lots of times in the past US government sided with dictators/army around the world keeping a straight face. They preach the high morals of democracy but support army for the short term gain. It shows no sign of coming to an end. With the Headely episode Americans are being viewed very negatively by the average Indian added to the hostile attitude of the Pakistani public for whole different reasons. Now Obama squandered the goodwill of the people of India, built carefully over a decade, without blinking or thinking.
The US is not a reliable nation. Their promises need to be taken with a pinch of salt. Once upon a time Saddam Hussein was their ally. Yet on another occasion Iran was their friend. We know what happened in Iran and Iraq. The US uses small nations for its geo-political goals and abandons them as soon as their objectives are met. In Afghanistan, they used Pakistan to derail the USSR and simply left the place in rubble. The end result is what we see today. So Pakistan should not feel thrilled about getting a massage from the US now. Things can change and the US is highly unpredictable. The only way to engage them in the long run is through economic and military power. They do not mess with nations that have managed to stand up for themselves. China and India are examples. The US deals with them, but on a one-to-one basis. Pakistan would be cheating itself by relying on the US. The recent cozying up with Pakistan is a only a trap. Knowing the emotional nature of the Pakistanis, the US is employing this conciliatory method to gain something in the short run. Both the US and Pakistan are duplicitous and are cheating each other. The picture of Quershi and Hillary symbolizes that. At the end, the US is going to do what it intends. It does not matter what the deal with Pakistan is. One should not read much into these matters. Both countries are good at manipulating others and they deserve each other.
In international politics, there is neither a permanent friend nor a permanent enemy. However I believe if Kashmir disputes gets settled, India and Pakistan can be best allies. But the US, UK, France, Russia and China, all of them, have to sell their weapons. So they need disputes. Will anyone ever mention these issues?
Jabbar Khan, Pakistan
US does not understand that helping Pakistan with money, weapons and other bits will have huge consequences in the region as Pakistan will divert them against India.
For India, it is important to think about security of it's citizen and sideline US when dealing with Pakistan. Extremist free & democratic Pakistan is essence of world peace.
If you guys really want peace in the region and Pak-Indian real bilateral friendly relations then just solve the disputed Kashmir.
If " because backing extremists of any hue to carry out foreign policy goals is no longer internationally acceptable" is true - then why a firm reprimand of Israel has not come forth for killing a Hamas leader in another country. That was obviously state terrorism.
Zaki Mustafa, USA
Please forget about the past and look for a bright future. Both Indian and Pakistani are peace loving people and believe me they respect and love each other. So I would like all of us to speak to our leaders who only think about POWER NOT PEOPLE to make peace with neighbour not WAR. All of us in the sub-continent want peace. So our slogan should be forget and forgive and love each other.
Iqbal Butt, USA
What a brilliant article! Bravo Mr. Ahmed Rashid. India (and Indians) needn't worry about American concessions to Pakistan. Tossing a few bones to the Pakistani military for doing American bidding against their own people should not alarm India.
Cooperation between nations is rooted in mutual self interest. India is a democratic country of a billion people with a projected middle class of 500 million. Where are the Americans going to find markets for their industries? And with China emerging as the main rival to America -- who do you think the Americans will look to balance that? Unlike its neighbour, India is an emerging power in its own right. Americans will ignore that at their own peril.
Mitya , USA
In reply to some of the comments above in which people have cast a doubt about the Pakistani state's resolve in fighting terrorism, I must say that no other country has lost more soldiers than Pakistan, no other country has lost more civilians as Pakistan and no other country has suffered economically as Pakistan and no other country has arrested more high-level targets as Pakistan in this war. Even after this we Pakistanis are being told that we are not doing enough. All we want is some acknowledgement for our sacrifice. And all we want from the US is not to open up coffers but to open up opportunities which a normal Pakistani civilian can take advantage of like greater trade access and etc.
Pakistan will have greatest and most beneficiary friend in India, if its changes its vision. As the both countries have same culture, same language, same civilization and they understand each other better than anyone else in the world. India has expertise in many areas which Pakistan can take advantage in alleviating its people.
Hoping for better future for India sub continent in next 50 years
Satish Chandra, California, USA
Its just part of USA media campaign to fool the world. I don't think US is really interested in prosperity of Pakistan. Had they be sincere, they would have given access of their market to Pakistan's textile products. Most of billion dollars US had been announcing in the past, never reach Pakistan as such. Just compare the benefits of China's contribution to Pakistan's infrastructure to USA's mere announcements.
Every body sees Pakistan's alleged support to Taliban in Afghanistan but the world has turned a blind eye to huge Indian presence on Pakistan's western border from where it sponsors terrorism in Pakistan. Pakistan has been the front line state in the war against terror and has been its worst victim too. Does any body care?
Syed Hassan Raza, Pakistan
Pakistan in the last six decades should know who is the foe and who is the friend.
USA will desert Pakistan once its goal is acheived like in Afganstan.
Pakistan will do good to sit and clear all the misunderstanding with India once for all.
As they say, its better to have a bad son-in-law than a bad neighbour. Pakistan, think twice. God bless India and Pakistan
Harbhajan S Sadheura, UK
Interesting read, I for one am not a fan of Mr Rashid, but respect his views and appreciate his anti-Pakistan viewpoints. I am more concerned with the anti-pakistan views allowed to be published. These articles must encourage dialogue not brandish blame and promote intolerance especially from non pakistani people. I note alot of resentment from Indians and Bangladesh people. I think we need to embrace open mindedness and shun away from narrow mindedness, as many comments on the article suggest. MY view, simple Obama is a one term president so whatever he says or agrees is not worth the paper it is written on.
Jim Jones, UK
I appreciate the comprehension of the situation by Mr Rashid, good to see he thinks about Pakistani army that way according to him India is a clear looser in that scenario. I have few questions for him . In 1965 & 1971 both time Pakistan army misjudged Indian leadership .So this time again his article is unable to explain , what Pakistan and US will do if again there is a serious attack on India sponsored by Pakistan army & India decides that it is going to attack terrorist camp in POK & Punjab . The day India decides US will be nothing but a silent spectator & Pakistan will have no option but to fight with India without using the nukes. As it is clear that India has understood the US game that whether a war or no war US is of no use for India . Does Mr Rashid thinks that US will support Pak in that case and attack India . How long Pakistan will keep blackmailing US & the whole world . It's just a question of strong political will to be shown by India. So I feel Mr Rashid's view is very short sighted . The day he will think about Pakistan from the point of view of world he will not talk about Pak army rather he will think of common man of Pakistan.
Amrendra Kumar, India
PAKISTAN kindly do not be India centric. See the world and open your eyes. Don't waste your time fighting with your neighbour on trivial issues and try to use that time on solving your own problems - I'm sure you too can develop faster like India.
Deepak Dsouza, India
Good article, to the point with fairly unbiased viewpoint. The US is apparently in an indulgent mood with Pakistan for it's role in War on terror. Interesting was the inclusion of Pakistan's Defense establishment in the talks, but disappointing was US's effective assertion and pursuance on getting Pak to close terror mechanism aimed at India. Possibly the new regime in Washington feels that Pak's "non-state actor" terror mechanism against India is of low priority an not much of a concern of the "International Community" which presently seems pre-occupied solely with the AF-PAK plan.
All my wish is that, Pakistan some day, hope real soon, gets a visionary leader and a government with a realization that it's core interest should be to serve the people of Pakistan than just revolving around India enmity for decades and centuries with no improvement in the state of the country, also has the power to curb military power to the level of military in a democratic system than it's current state.
It seems fashionable in India and it's allied political parties in foreign nations like Bangladesh to blame every terrorist attack in south asia on Pakistan, as if it is Pakistan's official policy rather than admitting that they too have a problem with home grown religious militancy. The Indian media clearly breed this view of Paksitan as a backward, failed state waiting on the border to attack India at every oppurtunity. Nothing could be further from the truth, rememebr that it was India that officially supported the dismemberment of Pakistan into 2, and in reality Pakistan's poverty rate according to the UN Human Development Index is 20% compared to India's shocking 41%. Regarding terrorism, who is it that is backing Balouchi terrorists in Pakistan? Who is it that is backing MQM and other seperatist groups in Pakistan that have also killed thousands. There is 2 sides to every story, and nobody can forget how Hindu fundamentalists burn down christian villages in Orissa, and mosques in Ayodhya, or kill thousands of Muslims in Gujrat, and backed the Tamil Tigers in the 80's - the worlds most dangerous terrorist groups for decades. I repeat there is 2 sides to every story. Both sides should stop supporting violent groups against each other.
Kaashif Nawaz, UAE
If we want peace in the region we all have to put down our cards on the table then only a meaningful solution can work out, other wise it will be a roulette game of power and abuse of power.
Syed Farooq, Pakistan
India and Pakistan are two countries with a large number of very poor people. They need jobs,equality of oportunity,good quality education,health-care, social and economic justice. Against these crying needs, we are very "realistically" talking of stratigic-dialogue and nuclear-power deals. I think our priorities are all wrong. Love Thy Neighbour? Why should we love our neighbour, when it is so much easier to hate and demonise him. Buy more guns. Acquire better weapons. And let the common-man die !!
The Pakistanis serve their own needs, the way the US also serves its own interests. The happen to coincide to some degree currently. However the US could do a great deal more by opening its markets to other Pakistani exports such as software, by providing tax incentives to companies which outsource to Pakistan and Afghanistan as opposed to india. This will do a great deal to soak up the unemployed masses who make up the foot soldiers of the Taliban. Whats more it will cost US tax payers little, and simultaneously increase security.
A Akram, UK
US cannot deal with taliban alone. US knows that, but instead of trying to improve Pakistans economy (Textile incentives, investment in power etc) they are trying to sell more weapons and get things done through the military. In the end Pakistan will never be satisfied this way and result will be zero progress for the whole region.
Mohsin , Canada
If we go through the history with regard to Indo-Pak relationship, military rulers have been comparatively maintained with plus marks than democratically elected governments in Pakistan, who always maintaining bad relations by both the ruling and opposition political parties on account of power. However, India always wants Pakistan to flourish with real democracy progressing in all fields as any other developing countries like India not only for the sake of Pakistan itself but also for the entire region. It is not too late at least now, only UN with all existing powers to go through the prevailing problems in Pakistan at grass root level and explore all possibilities to rectify systematically taking into confidence of all affected people / countries concerned.
S. KRISHNAMOORTHY, INDIA
Reliance on US aid is like relying on a drug. Pakistan will never develop if everytime it faces a crisis it looks to the west for help. The sole focus of the country should be economic development. This demands strong independent institutions, good education, free markets, riddance from feudal lords and tacit monopolies and good infrastructure. We cannot afford to play complex and dirty foreign games when we don't have enough food, electricity and security for the average man on the street.
Aamir Asad, United Kingdom
The US is committing a blunder here by supporting Pakistan Military without accountability, and also indirectly supporting the terrorists organizations like LeT. India can absorb any snubs by the US because it has the power and capacity to survive on its own. India as a world largest democracy and fast growing nation has a great future and it will be a light for the whole world in future. Sadly, the US is going to loose a great partner.
Naveen Kumar, India
The US gives more dollars to her enemies than her friends. After World War II, the Americans spent a lot of money rehabilitating Germany and Japan, while leaving her only colony dirt poor. At present, Pakistan and Afghanistan, both recipients of huge American aid are fiercely anti-American. America is unpopular in these two countries. Why send them money?
Rex R., Philippines
Ahmed Rashid can always be relied upon to produce a well-balanced view in the long-running Indo-Pak conflict situation. When the picture is murky, his articles are a beacon of light. Keep it up Mr Rashid
Sanjay Sen, UK
It would be very naive to think that India is in Afghanistan for the goodwill and development of that country. How can a country that has never helped any of its neighbour in its 60 years of history, instead always caused disharmony in the reigon, became so sympathetic with a country which does even share a border line with it.India motives have always been malicious and it has fought 4 wars with Pakistan, was involved in civil war in Sri Lanka, has border issues with Bangladesh, caused an upheaval in Nepal, who else is left,I think its Bhutan. The only reason of Indian presence in Afghanistan can be rationalised is that it wants to use the Afghan soil for its miscreant adventures inside Pakistan. Indian should realise that their dream of making another base against Pakistan is over and they should start thinking of packing their bags and go home.
Asad Baig, UK
There is no doubt that the strategic dialogue was a huge breakthrough for Pakistan. However, as an Indian, it comes as a bit of a worry that we are once again seeing a resurgence of Pakistan's military and perhaps more importantly, a tacit acceptance by Washington to deal with Rawalpindi as the 'real' partner, as opposed to Islamabad. Furthermore, the idea of talks between the two countries purely serves US interests. President Obama's pre-election promise to address terrorism in Pakistan has not yet materialised, with groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba continuing to wage a proxy war with India -a fact acknowledged by the US Congress. I say kudos to New Delhi for showing restraint in the face of adversity, particularly when Washington continues to subscribe to double standards when it comes to addressing terrorism emanating from Pakistani soil.
Rohit , India
What Mr Rashid and most other biased BBC reporters and journalists fail to acknowledge is that Pakistan has no option but to opt for covert operations by supporting militant groups. If India is involved in the same in Balochistan, NWFP, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka...etc then Pakistan the only nation willing to stand up to a wannabe bully India must also play the same game. Too much effort is put into trying to portray India as a good citizen of the world when India is the problem.
Mohsin Khan, UK
I sincerely hope that this round of strategic dialogue helps Pakistan understand that until it gives up its obsession with India and focuses on its real internal problems, it will ultimately collapse as the Soviet Union did trying to keep up with the West. Until Pakistan realizes that they can have a strategic dialogue with a country like the US only when it chooses to embrace democracy, the Americans will continue to string them along as long as it suits them and dump them when they don't need them. I think Pakistan understands this as well. It was pathetic to see the Foreign Minister on TV behaving like a teenager out on his first date during the press conference with the US Secretary of State. The Americans have made quite clear that they are forced to talk to the Pakistanis 'holding their noses'. The Pakistanis talk to the US holding a gun to their own head and it is only their location next to Afghanistan that is saving them. The feudal elite which includes the Army want to keep the India bogey alive so they can continue to milk the gravy train that flows from the West. I doubt very much if the strategic dialogue will fructify into a partnership unless Pakistan understands that India has no designs on its territory. In Afghanistan India has invested $1.3 bn dollars in humanitarian aid and not in instigating terrorist groups. The Pakistanis blame India for bisecting their country in 1971 and their elite has always kept the true reasons hidden from their population. Nilesh, India