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Daily Jang, Pakistan

New American Ambassador to Pakistan:
A New Era in Pakistan-US Relations?

By Javed Malik

Translated By Farina Abrejo

28 November 2012

Edited by Jane Lee

Pakistan - Daily Jang - Original Article (Urdu )

The nomination of the new American ambassador to Pakistan comes at a time when important historical events are taking place in Pakistan and its surrounding region. These events reveal realities and will contribute to changes in geographical and theoretical perspectives.

After understanding these changes, which are playing important roles externally, internally and locally, we can evaluate the direction of the relationship between America and Pakistan. President Obama, after returning to the White House, clarified his policies, which indicate that America is sticking to its previous plan of withdrawal from Afghanistan. Therefore, the plan (which is called “Endgame 2014”) is going to be put into action in the next few months. The regional importance of Pakistan will be clarified with the accomplishment of this “endgame” and there will be a new turn in the relationship between Afghanistan, Pakistan and America. Pakistan needs to familiarize itself with these changes after identifying the consequences of the changes. This period is also very important with regard to the internal matters of the country. For the first time in the history of Pakistan, a democratic government, without any army interference, is completing its tenure and will have elections in a few months. The fairness and transparency of elections are vital not only for Pakistan but for the Pakistan-America relationship, as this relationship will play a key role in the future government of Pakistan.

In the middle of all these important challenges, America’s new ambassador Mr. Richard Olson is going to start his term in Pakistan. This period is important as well as full of challenges. As a student of diplomacy, I know that it is important to change challenges into opportunities. According to diplomatic circles and expert analysts, Mr. Olson, who is an experienced ambassador, is able to identify the opportunities in those challenges. And because of this, it will be possible to have a positive relationship between America and Pakistan. Richard Olson served as an ambassador in many Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq and Afghanistan before Pakistan. Therefore, he is well aware of the feelings and emotions of Muslims and is an appropriate choice for an Islamic country like Pakistan.

I met with Richard Olson in the UAE many times. He was at the many meetings of “the friends of Pakistan.” I always found him up to date with Pakistan’s situation. He is hopeful regarding the strategic partnership between Pakistan and America. During his confirmation by the U.S. Senate, he discussed “a secure, stable, democratic Pakistan,” which is important for America’s interests. After that, during his conversation with Pakistani media, he mentioned Pakistan’s sacrifices and also highlighted that it is important for both countries to expand the relationship.

Diplomatic circles consider the appointment of Richard Olson to be a better choice and the first indication of changed foreign policy for Pakistan. Policymakers understand that it is very important to have a strong mutually beneficial relationship between the two countries by expanding it further beyond government and taking it to the ordinary people. They also want to highlight the positive impression about America at the national level in Pakistan. They want to indicate to the people in Pakistan that the relationship between America and Pakistan is not limited to “security issues” and the war against terror, but that the boundary of this relationship is expanding to cover economics, culture, trade and education as well. Therefore, the U.S. Department of State nominated Mr. Richard Olson. In order to expand the relationship, Mr. Olson has been prominently busy with the media and has been having meetings with people in the social sector. The reason for all these measures is to build a better relationship with the nation along with the government of Pakistan.

These measures reflect improved American foreign policy with which America wants to create a positive image for itself among the people in Pakistan. From the Pakistani point of view, their nation is very optimistic after Obama’s recent speech, in which he mentioned “ending the decade of war.” People in Pakistan are hoping that with this “end” there will be an end to an era of insecurity and tension between America and Pakistan. The actual reasons for this lack of confidence are some incidents that have created misunderstandings and turned into a lack of confidence. At the top of the list of these incidents are the Raymond Davis incident, illegal drone attacks and Red and Salala attacks of May 2. It is important to learn lessons from the past and move ahead, and this is crucial for both countries. Therefore, it will be the priority of the American ambassador to create an environment which helps in gaining back the confidence. In this regard, it is important to create a mutual relationship that expands cultural, trade and economic links between the two countries. The relationship, which increases links and support of private and business sectors, also increases the trading options between America and Pakistan. Experts believe that to put it into practice, Mr. Olson is the best choice. He not only has the abilities but also the experience to take the relationship in a positive direction. It is expected that this new era in the Pakistan-America relationship will start in the coming days.



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