Policy of seeking strategic depth has changed, US told
[Dawn] Pakistain doesn't have the option of "walking away from" Afghanistan, the way the US may end up doing, Ambassador Sherry Rehman told a meeting that saw her and senior Obama aides trading barbs over the Afghan conflict.
At a meeting in Aspen, Colorado, Obama officials again accused Pakistain of not doing enough to combat terrorism while the Pak envoy insisted that her country was doing all it could but was not getting credit for its sacrifices.
Although the United States and Pakistain agreed recently to renew efforts to rebuild their troubled relationship, the discussion -- posted live on the internet -- made it amply clear that they still disagreed on all major issues. The discussion precedes a key meeting between US and Pak spy chiefs in Washington on Aug 2 in which Pakistain is expected to renew its demands for ending drone strikes and may seek US help to stop cross-border attacks from Afghanistan.
But senior US officials disagreed with Pakistain on both the issues.
"These are critical masses of people that come in; this is not just potshots," said Ms Rehman while explaining Islamabad's position on cross-border attacks by Pak Taliban groups.
"They come in large numbers, with sophisticated weapons."
Speaking through a video link from Washington, she said that on 52 different occasions during the last eight months Pakistain had provided to American and NATO
...the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. A cautionary tale of cost-benefit analysis....
commanders in Afghanistan the locations from which the snuffies were attacking, to no avail.
President B.O.'s top adviser on the Afghan conflict Douglas E. Lute, however, rejected her claim. Mr Lute, a retired three-star general, insisted that cross-border infiltrations into Pakistain were less serious than the attacks carried out by the Afghan Taliban from their bases
"There's no comparison of the Pak Taliban's relatively recent, small-in-scale presence inside Afghanistan...to the decades-long experience and relations between elements of the Pak government and the Afghan Taliban. So to compare these is simply, I think, unfair," Mr Lute said.
Criticising the CIA's drone strikes in Pakistain, Ms Rehman said it's time for that sort of 'robotic warfare' to end. "The drone strikes now see diminishing returns," she said, while acknowledging that up to this point they had helped kill dangerous thugs. "We will be seeking an end to drone strikes and there will be no compromise on that."
The drone strikes, she said, whipped up anti-American sentiment and "add to the pool of recruits we're fighting against," she said.
Ambassador Rehman pointed out that Pakistain's old policy of seeking strategic depth in Afghanistan had changed and so had its attitude towards India.
"We are not hedging bets on the Taliban," she said. But this change was not recognised in Washington nor was Pakistain's sacrifices in the war against terror, said the ambassador.
Quoting IMF estimates, she said Pakistain had lost almost $78 billion during the conflict that started after the Sept 11, 2011, terrorist attacks in the US. "More than 42,000 Pak civilians and soldiers have been killed," she said. "We are fighting every day and we are taking the hit."
Posted by: Fred