Irrational Reaction

The government finds itself in an unenviable position between the US policy of pursuing a drone war against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government’s threat to block Nato supplies as reprisal.
The interior minister’s grim warning about reviewing ties with the US and Imran Khan’s vow to raise the stakes by risking rule in KP take the Pak-US discord on drone warfare to a dangerous level. There should be no illusion about who stands to lose more in case of a showdown.
While the government did everything to show its earnestness for talks with the Taliban, it was evident that the latter’s condition about the cessation of drone attacks was beyond Islamabad’s power. Some accounts of the prime ministerial delegation’s meeting in the White House pointed to President Obama’s non-response to Mian Sahib’s repeated calls for an end to drone attacks.
What transpired in the critical one on one meeting between Sharif and Obama is fully known only to them. It can be assumed at best that Obama might have been a little more communicative. But how? Asking Pakistan to exert greater efforts to stop militants operating across its borders? He may have also urged Sharif to crackdown on terrorists attacking within its territory.
The Pakistani side’s feel-good vibes about US inclination to eventually review drone attacks in the run up to talks with the TTP have come crashing down against after the latest drone strikes killing Hakeemullah and close associates. The interior minister’s reaction to the TTP chief’s killing amounts to a reassertion of private claims that the US and Afghanistan are helping the TTP to destabilise Pakistan, as a pressure point to cooperate in curbing the Afghan Taliban — notably Haqqani group’s bases in the tribal area. Ch Nisar’s outburst reflects the state of despair the government finds itself in.
Imran Khan is a step ahead of Nisar in accusing the US and threatening all sorts of consequences that can lead to Pakistan’s detriment. To paraphrase an oft-repeated quote by the grand old man of Pakistan’s diplomacy Sahibzada Yaqub Khan, it is dangerous to treat your declaratory and operational policy as one and the same.
One does not have to be pro-America to call for caution and restraint in dealing with the great power. Our history though does not give hope for a balanced approach. Rewind to the time when the Soviet Union collapsed leaving only one super power.
Most countries reacted to this tectonic shift by realigning their relations. The Palestinian resistance accepted to talk to Israel. India moved closer to the US. And rather than adapting to changes on the global chessboard, we proceeded to open new franchises of jihad.
In the present crisis a segment of our leadership is acting rather irrationally by asserting that the attack against Hakeemullah is designed to sabotage an embryonic preliminary dialogue with the TTP. Discretion on the government’s part would have served our interests well. The US, on the other hand, says laconically that the dialogue is an internal matter of Pakistan.
A country where the provincial administration is ready to land the country into a serious international dispute and the interior minister has no hesitation in taking over the role of defence and foreign ministers will not be treated seriously by the international community.Mr Prime Minister, it is time to act and put our own house in order, as you have so aptly pointed out. It is for the federal cabinet and not the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to formulate a national response to deal with the situation arising from the latest drone attacks.