Pakistan and America: Preparing for a Timely ‘Divorce’ (Le Monde, France)
What are the ramifications of what now appears to be the irreconcilable relationship between the United States and Pakistan? Le Monde columnist Frédéric Bobin, in this very European examination of all that has gone wrong between the two nations, writes that an unsettling future awaits the United States, Pakistan and all of of South Asia, thanks largely to ‘annus horribilis 2011.’
For Le Monde, Frédéric Bobin starts off this way:
Don’t be afraid of the word “divorce.” The union between Pakistan and the United States took place. The two countries, allies in the “war against terror” throughout the post-9/11 decade, are rewriting their agreements after “annus horribilis” (2011), during which the spiral of strife seemed endless. The newly-emerging relationship is not necessarily antagonistic. But it is no longer an alliance – that special friendship that led the U.S. to marry their security interests. Indeed, cooperation in the fight against al-Qaeda was profound, with Pakistan forces arrested dozens of the organization’s leaders who failed to seek sanctuary with the Afghan Taliban.
The current repositioning is important, because Pakistan is playing a key role in the Afghan theater – just as much in the dynamics of war as in the scenario for future peace. And also because the reordering of Pakistani diplomacy, which has decided to free itself from the American embrace in order to seek new partners, will alter the regional landscape. The seeds for a new geopolitical map of South Asia are being planted; one that is more diverse and complex, and probably more unpredictable.
So – a horrible year. It started badly and ended worse. On January 27, 2011, CIA agent Raymond Davis, on the pretext of self- defense, shot two Pakistani civilians on the streets of Lahore. The case was never adequately explained. But it created the first jolt to the relationship between Washington and Islamabad. Nationalist and Islamist circles in Pakistan found this it be ample material to denounce the growing presence of the CIA on national soil – especially near the Pashtun tribal areas in the northwest, where the Afghan insurgents have established safe havens.
The dust from this first incident had yet to settle before a new storm broke. In the inky night of May 1 and 2, a raid by U.S. Special Forces liquidated Osama bin Laden in his hideout in Abbottabad, a Pakistan garrison town north of the capital, Islamabad. The divergence of reaction triggered by this event in each country served as a caricature of the strategic misunderstanding on which their so-called alliance would stumble from then on; the unspoken had become brutally clear.
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