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“Friends Not Masters” : Hillary Clinton in Pakistan

November 7, 2009

Amidst drastic worsening of  the Af-Pak situation with US forces suffering our deadliest months and Pakistani civilians and military bearing the brunt of terrorist assaults,  Secretary Clinton arrived in full diplomatic force last week. She made media rounds sitting down for Q&A sessions with everyone from major news outlets to universities. But even the Clinton charm and expertise was met with vociferous skepticism. Before concerns on the Kerry Lugar bill could be adequately addressed, Clinton’s statements seem to have only riled increased trepidation in Pakistan:

Hamid Mir of GEO News peppered her with questions regarding illegally armed US diplomats roaming the streets of the capital and continued drone attacks. His questions reflect macro concerns that sovereignty is inherently undermined in cooperating with the United States. And at the Government college in Lahore, Secretary Clinton faced what I thought were even tougher questions:

Students identified a worsening War on Terror is akin to the Vietnam quagmire and suggested it’s time we focused on winning hearts and minds.

Another student echoed widespread skepticism of US/Pakistan cooperation citing failures of previous engagement during the Soviet Afghan War and how again “forcing Pakistan to take action that we might not want to take”  is a legitimate concern among masses. Another said bilateral relations are marred by a subsequent “trust deficit” with Secretary Clinton responding that American’s have a similar lacking faith in Pakistan.

That mutual distrust, as disappointing as it is on all ends, is tame compared to what Clinton expressed to Newspapers in Lahore:

“Al Qaeda has had safe haven in Pakistan since 2002….I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn’t get them if they really wanted to”

And that was just on security. On society and development she criticized  “At the risk of sounding undiplomatic, Pakistan has to have internal investment in your public services and your business opportunities”

Ouch, thinks Pakistan. If Hillary’s mission was to rally support of cooperation with the United States amidst rapidly increasing skepticism of D.C.’s policies, the rhetoric has fallen short. In fact both Pakistani and American media are growing weary of the alliance:

Chris Matthews, in trademark rambunctiousness goes to town on Pakistan’s efforts in the War on Terror. But simplistic, irrelevant comments from his guests subtract from any substantive debate on the issue.

No offense Mr. Matthews, but just a brief look at a history book, closer reading of ground realities, or even quoting Hillary in context of the entire situation would have made for a more substantial segment. The panelists actually likened U.S engagement of  Pakistan to a Sigfreid and Roy Act. It’s laughable and renders the aforementioned student questions more articulate and informative than this discussion.

Nonetheless, it seems former Pakistani President Ayub Khan’s book suggesting cooperation based on the idea of each being “Friends not Masters” is now a shared sentiment in this alliance . So the dilemma remains: increasing skepticism polarizes Islamabad and D.C. I just hope it will spur realization that winning hearts and minds on both ends is imperative.

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9 comments

  1. […] “Friends Not Masters” : Hillary Clinton in Pakistan […]

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  2. […] Overview: Pakistan has been the ultimate quagmire. Suicide bombings, Taliban aggressions and violence plagued Pakistani civilians throughout the year while the Obama administration grappled with crafting an effective strategy in what is now referred to as the Af-Pak War. Collectively, foreign policymaking heavyweights attempted at a solution. Special Envoy Holbrooke spent months in the region, Secretary Clinton made multiple visits and media rounds this year, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee heard from General McChrystal on a troop surge which itself was hotly debated at length before ultimately being brought forth by President Obama. Despite the necessity of bilateral cooperation in obliterating terrorists, Pakistan and the United States grow weary of their alliance. Drone attacks, intensifying U.S. relations with India namely through the civilian nuclear deal, and deep hesitations on the Kerry Lugar Bill marred relations on the Pakistani side. And for the United States, the lingering concern that Pakistan should be doing more in the War on Terror and appreciate our patience with their efforts have made both states cynical partners. […]

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  3. […] Reason We Should Remain Neutral – Perpetuating rampant blame that one too many American backed military dictators have prevented democracy from ever taking root in Pakistan can’t help growing weariness of cooperation with our government. […]

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  4. […] Reason We Should Remain Neutral – Perpetuating rampant blame that one too many American backed military dictators have prevented democracy from ever taking root in Pakistan can’t help growing weariness of cooperation with our government. […]

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  5. […] a writer for Dawn News (Pakistan’s premier Newspaper). It’s an increasingly heard argument as cooperation between the United States and Pakistan deepens. In fact, it seems many Pakistani’s either fall into the category of calling for less […]

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  6. […] a writer for Dawn News (Pakistan’s premier Newspaper). It’s an increasingly heard argument as cooperation between the United States and Pakistan deepens. In fact, it seems many Pakistani’s either fall into the category of calling for less […]

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  7. […] technology provided him with that margin of hawkishness. Either way though, one thing is certain, despite skepticism on both ends of the U.S. Pakistan relationship, cooperation is ever […]

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  8. […] technology provided him with that margin of hawkishness. Either way though, one thing is certain, despite skepticism on both ends of the U.S. Pakistan relationship, cooperation is ever […]

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  9. […] a grand, almost inconceivable statement given that Anti Americanism is on a rapid rise and India / Pakistan are widely considered notorious Arch Nemesis in international relations […]

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