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Foreign Relations- Pakistan & U.S.A. - Obama

On March 27, 2009, the President announced a comprehensive, new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan that is the culmination of a careful 60-day, interagency strategic review. During the review process, we consulted with the Afghan and Pakistani governments, partners and NATO allies, other donors, international organizations and members of Congress. The strategy starts with a clear, concise, attainable goal: disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its safe havens.

For the first time the President will treat Afghanistan and Pakistan as two countries but one challenge. Teh US strategy focused more intensively on Pakistan than in the past, calling for more significant increases in U.S. and international support, both economic and military, linked to Pakistani performance against terror.

Much of 2011 was a period of heightened tension and uncertainty in the overall U.S.-Pakistani bilateral relationship. Pakistan's military leadership insisted it will not allow foreign forces to carry out operations on Pakistani territory. In a written statement released by the military, General Ashfaq Kayani said "no external force is allowed to conduct operations" inside Pakistan. The statement also vowed that Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity will be defended at "all cost." These feelings were only intensified after Operation Neptune Spear and the death of Osama bin Laden because Pakistani authorities were never alerted to the operation, for fear of bin Laden being tipped off. The raid was considered by many Pakistanis to be a violation of the nation's sovereignty.

As a result, considerable pressure has been put on Pakistan-U.S. relations, as well as the CIA's drone program, which flys mainly out of the Shamsi Air Base, and formerly Jacobabad Air Base. Pakistan requested additional drone strikes in 2008 and drone attacks increased in frequency since the election of President Obama. Cables leaked in May 2011 via Wikileaks indicated that Pakistan had asked for "continuous" air coverage by drones, though the nature of the drones missions was left unspecified. But in light of Operation Neptune Spear and the rising tide of anti-Americanism, Pakistan has threatened that the continuation of drones missions without the nation's express consent would "force them to act". Islamabad had reportedly asked for the drone bases to be shutdown well before the bin Laden raid in early May. In order to strengthen the relationship between the two countries, America agreed to shutdown its drone base at Shamsi and move them across the border into Afghanistan.

The release of Ray Davis on 16 March 2011, who was arrested in January 2011 for the murder of two Pakistanis, has only acted to further enrage hostile feelings towards America. Davis, a CIA contractor on as-yet-unkown-business in Pakistan, alleged he acted in self-defence as the two men had attempted to rob him. He was released after the families of the deceased pardoned him in court; they had received "blood-money", compensation for the deaths (a standard practice in the region) totalling 200 million rupees ($2.4 million).

On 10 July 2011, $800 million in military aid to Pakistan was suspended, roughly one third of the $2 billion total military aid to that country for the fiscal year. The move came after Pakistan expelled over 100 American military trainers tasked with training Pakistani troops, denied visas to American military equipment trainers, and put limits on visas for American personnel. It was being seen as an attempt to pressure Pakistan into better cooperation with America, but Pakistani military leaders said that "aid with conditions is not acceptable." A Pentagon spokesman said that the money was on hold, not off the table, and once issues between the two nations had been resolved, the aid could continue as it had. Issues to be resolved included the number of visas Pakistan would allow for US personnel and proof of military operations for which Pakistan was seeking reimbursement. Within the aid package, $300 million was to reimburse Pakistan for the cost of equipping and deploying 10,000 soliders along the Afghan border through the Coalition Support Fund, while the remaining $500 million was tied to US military trainers and equipment. In 2010, the US provided almost $4.5 billion in military and civilian aid to Pakistan. Military aid accounted for over half of this amount, totaling nearly $2.7 billion. Even though the reduction in aid hindered talks between the two countries, both said they were still committed to repairing relations.

On 26 November 2011, Pakistan reported that NATO helicopters and jets had attacked a Pakistani military facility along the border with Afghanistan, killing at least 26 Pakistani soldiers and injuring 14 more. Pakistan declared the strike to be completely unprovoked and said it would immediately reassess its relatinos both the trans-Altantic alliance and the United States. Pakistan subsequently closed the border crossing in the Kyber Pass to NATO supply convoys and ordered the US to vacate Shamsi Air Base. Shamsi was believed to be used by the United States to launch strikes within Pakistan using unmanned aerial vehicles.

Afghan officials later accused Pakistani forces of provoking the attack by firing on coalition forces in Afghanistan, a charge that Pakistani officials denied. The US said that it would conduct an inquiry into the circumstances of the attack and designated US Central Command (CENTCOM) as the lead entity for the investigation on 28 November 2011. CENTCOM commander Marine Corps General James N. Mattis appointed Air Force Brigadier General Stephen A. Clark from the US Special Operations Command headquarters to lead the investigation. Pakistan demanded an apology from the US. The US refused to make such a statement until the inquiry into the attack had been concluded.

As a result of the 26 November 2011 attack, Pakistan announced that it would boycott the conference on the future of Afghanistan to be held in Bonn, Germany in December 2011.

Pakistan and the United States on 01 August 2012 signed a Memorandum of understanding (MoU) regarding the formal restoration of supply routes for NATO forces in Afghanistan. The MoU says there will be no transportation of arms and ammunition for foreign troops in Afghanistan via Pakistan. American Charge d'Affaires, Richard Hoagland, and a senior Pakistani defence ministry official, Rear Admiral Farrokh Ahmad, signed the MoU on behalf of the two governments. The federal cabinet last week approved the draft of the MoU after series of talks between senior officials of the two countries in Islamabad. The NATO supplies were suspended in the wake of a U.S. airstrike on a border check post in November last year that killed twenty four Pakistani soldiers. The supply routes remained suspended for almost seven months. Following apology by the US on the incident on 03 July 2012‚ Pakistan reopened the supply routes.

After taking office in June 2013, Nawaz Sharif would be expected to take urgent steps to ease strains plaguing diplomatic relations with the United States and seek an immediate end to drone strikes on Pakistani soil, a commitment he undertook during the election campaign. A member of the new parliament and key PML-N adviser on foreign policy, Khurram Dastagir Khan, said his party will waste no time in addressing the drone issue, in view of the widespread belief among Pakistanis that such attacks violate the country’s sovereignty and international law.

“It [drone attacks] is part of the crisis of our foreign policy and also one of the things that we are going to do in the first few days is to reassess our relationship with the United States in view of the war on terror and the participation Pakistan has so far made in the 12 years. And part of it would be, our case is very strong, that drone strikes should cease forthwith," said Khan.

Pakistan's former ambassador to the United States, Maleeha Lodhi, says the new government will be under immense public pressure if drone attacks are not halted. “The latest U.S. drone strike within Pakistan underscores the urgency of the challenge for the incoming new Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to deal with this issue and Nawaz Sharif in fact publicly he has committed himself to engaging the United States in negotiations to try to end drone strikes within Pakistan’s territory. So, I think the latest drone strike only makes that challenge more urgent," said Lodhi.

Sharif's electoral campaign was marked by anti-U.S. rhetoric, pledging to cut Pakistan’s cooperation with Washington in the war on terror. But Sharif knows he needs Washington's economic assistance and backing to get loans from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The United States should cut off financial and military aid to Pakistan's government, a key US lawmaker said July 12, 2016, because Pakistan's powerful military establishment and intelligence services have not broken off their links to terrorist groups. “Fifteen years have passed since September 11, billions of dollars have been spent and far too little change has occurred in Pakistan,” according to Congressman Matt Salmon of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He was speaking at a hearing of the foreign-affairs group's Asia and Pacific subcommittee, which he chairs, titled: “Pakistan: Friend or Foe in the Fight against Terrorism.” Salmon said “The United States has spent tens of billions in taxpayers’ dollars in the form of aid to Pakistan since September 11, all in the hope that Pakistan would become a partner in the fight against terrorism .... Unfortunately, despite the significant investment, Pakistani military and intelligence services are still linked to terrorist groups."

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Page last modified: 12-05-2018 19:23:22 ZULU