Suspicious of deepening ties between India and the United States, Pakistan is reluctant to plunge into war with Afghan militants and even high-profile visits of U.S. officials have failed to win over a military and civilian establishment in Islamabad, a media report said.
The recent visit of U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates and U.S. Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke could not convince Pakistan to go ahead full throat in its war against terrorism.
“One major obstacle, analysts said, is the close relationship between the United States and India,” The Washington Post on Monday reported in its dispatch from Islamabad.
“India-Pakistan relations are mired in mistrust, with India suspecting Pakistan of colluding in a terrorist attack in Mumbai in late 2008, and Pakistan suspecting that India uses Afghanistan to launch anti-Pakistan subversion,” it said.
The Post said that for some Pakistanis, the message of support delivered by Mr. Gates and other recent visitors, including Mr. Holbrooke, has been discredited by similar U.S. messages of support for India.
“Washington sees India’s active role in Afghanistan as a force for stability, but Pakistan sees it as a threat and has been reaching out to other regional powers, including Iran, for counterbalancing support,” The Post said.
This despite the fact that Mr. Gates offered shadow drones to Pakistan during his recent visit to Pakistan. The gesture intended to ease Pakistani concerns about the increasing use of U.S. armed drones to launch missile strikes against al-Qaeda and Taliban targets in Pakistan’s remote tribal areas.
“The other major obstacle, analysts said, is Pakistan’s concern that if its armed forces expand operations and go after allies of the Afghan Taliban, this will invite retribution from radical groups that have so far refrained from attacking Pakistan, and that could end up sharing power in Afghanistan after Western forces withdraw,” The Post said.
According to The Post, analysts and diplomats said the army’s delaying tactics were in part a gambit to win more U.S. military aid and in part a reflection of the toll taken by the fighting.
“Other observers pointed to a cultural cause for the disconnect between the United States and Pakistan, despite the recent infusion of U.S. economic aid and the fence-mending visits from Washington. Pakistanis understand the need to curb violent militant groups, they said, but do not want to be seen as doing Washington’s bidding,” the daily said.