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Daily Dunya, Pakistan

Pakistan and John Kerry

By Arshad Mahmoud

Translated By Mariam Khalid

30 December 2012

Edited by Kath­leen Weinberger

Pakistan - Daily Dunya - Original Article (Urdu)

Senator John Kerry will soon be the next U.S Secretary of State. He is considered a friend of Pakistan. As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he has always supported Pakistan on any issue. In the last few years, when the tension between Pakistan and America was at its peak, John Kerry always stepped in to defend Pakistan's strategic importance. Anti-Pakistan feelings intensified in America after the death of Osama bin Laden. Dr. Shakil Afridi, who helped in the capture of Osama bin Laden, became a hero in America while he was arrested for treachery in Pakistan. Senator Rand Paul proposed a bill that would freeze U.S. aid to Pakistan unless Afridi was released. John Kerry was the one who challenged Rand Paul. He said that it was because of Pakistan’s help that the U.S. was able to win the war against al-Qaida. Pakistanis are sacrificing their lives in the northwestern tribal region and there is a debate about freezing its aid. Financial aid to Pakistan was restored because of John Kerry; had he not stepped in, tensions between these two countries would have skyrocketed.

John Kerry has been a member of the U.S. Senate for 27 years. He has been working with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for a long time; thus, his views and opinions are well-respected in Washington. From restoring the NATO supply line to apologizing for the Salala attack, John Kerry has always been front and center in solving these complex issues. In addition, he has been to Pakistan a number of times. He proposed the Kerry-Lugar Act, a bill created to enhance the partnership between these two countries. According to the bill, Pakistan will receive $1.5 billion annually for five years. Later, when the Pakistani army and the opposition criticized the bill, John Kerry himself came to Pakistan and issued a five-page document that addressed all of the concerns that the Pakistani army and the opposition had about this bill. He is very well-respected in Pakistan and has good relations with both politicians and the military.

A few other changes are happening in the U.S. government. Leon Panetta will be succeeded by a new defense secretary. Gen. David Petraeus also had to resign as director of the CIA after a scandal regarding a romantic affair was exposed. Leon Panetta and Gen. Petraeus shared a very bitter relationship with General Kiyani and the recently retired director of ISI, Ahmad Shujah Pasha. Now, except for President Obama, the team dealing with Pakistan will consist of largely new members. Because of John Kerry, it will be easy for the military and intelligence agencies to make better decisions.

As in America, major changes are happening in the political and military leadership in Pakistan. After the election, a new government will form. If Nawaz Sharif gets elected, he might introduce new policies instead of following the old ones. Chief of army staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani will retire in November 2013. Gen. Kiyani is among the architects who formulated the Afghan-American policy in Pakistan, and has been the chairman of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and army chief for eight years. Pakistan was going through a very difficult time during this period, due to both the rise in terrorism and to the intense relationship between Pakistan and America. Based on this, it is predicted that old Afghan policies will not be changed.

ISI, which runs all the Afghan operations, has a new leader, Lieutenant General Zaheer ul Islam. He is known for being moderate regarding the Pakistan-America relationship. He kept away from politics and media and tried to restore this relationship back to normal. However, the fact is that the military and the intelligence agencies of Pakistan and America have trust issues with each other, which have resulted in operations like the Salala attack that killed 26 Pakistani soldiers.

Pakistan is afraid that after the Americans leave Afghanistan, the country will once again become a battleground for Afghan warlords and its land could be used against Pakistan’s interest. Pakistan wants to see an ally in Afghanistan and wants the Taliban and Afghan government to structure a peaceful government together.

Effective communication should be encouraged, not only to Pakhtoons but also to Afghan leaders, scholars and other civil leaders. Very few Pakistani leaders and experts are aware about the current Afghan interior crisis. Such writers and experts should be encouraged to bring out new concepts to improve Pak-Afghan relationship.

The tension between Pakistan and America should be resolved while John Kerry is in office. Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan will be effective only if both countries form a relationship based on trust. Pakistan also has to take new domestic measures to stop the anti-American campaign, as this does not benefit Pakistan, but instead aids the extremist groups. These campaigns should be stopped now.



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