There seems to be another shocking twist coming to the US-Pak relations. Two bills demanding stoppage of complete military assistance to Pakistan and imposition of trade conditions were passed on Thursday by US House Committee and Subcommittee. It should be alarming for Pakistan, but authorities in Islamabad appear to be less concerned about the moves. The House Armed Services Committee approved a draft of the National Defence Authorisation Act seeking a bar on preferential import of goods and services from Pakistan. The draft bill also calls for reduction of aid to just 10 percent of the available funds unless Pakistan reopens NATO supply routes.
The bill is likely to be debated by the House next week and if it is passed by the House of Representatives, it will also have to be approved by the US Senate. Finally, Presidentwill sign the bill before it becomes the law. Why the US is taking such tough measures against one of its allies on war on terror? The Obama administration believes that Pakistan is not doing enough to eliminate terrorists rather militants have established their safe havens in the tribal region of the country. Despite repeated requests by the US, Pakistan army has refused to launch a full-fledged operation against militants based in North Waziristan.
The US believes that terrorists based in North Waziristan cross the border and attack the US-led coalition forces based in Afghanistan. US officials also still believe that intelligence agencies of Pakistan including Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) have been funding and supporting terrorists despite pressure from the international community. In her recent visit to India, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in clear terms that Pakistan will have to do more to eliminate high-profile terrorists. She also alleged that Pakistani authorities did not do much to bring Hafiz Saeed to justice.
Hafiz Saeed is alleged to be mastermind of 2008 Mumbai attacks, wherein around 166 civilians were killed including ten from the United States. Indian authorities allege that Pakistani intelligence agencies are protecting the alleged terrorist despite enough evidences of his involvement in the attacks have been given to them.
The deteriorated relations between the United States and Pakistan fell to the lowest ebbs in November last year when NATO helicopters attacked a Pakistan army check post at Salala. 24 soldiers of the Pakistan army were killed, while dozens others received critical injuries. Pakistan shut down the NATO supply routes and asked for an unconditional apology over the tragedy. The US has so far refused to apologise over the incident, as NATO troops were not solely responsible for the attack.
Pakistan's Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar had already expressed concerns over potential economic sanctions if the country did not reopen NATO supply routes. We hope both the countries will exercise discretion and resolve the contentious issues through dialogue and negotiations.