The new US ambassador to Islamabad is due to arrive here in a couple of weeks time. The last one resigned in what remain unexplained circumstances although there seems little doubt that his pragmatic and thoughtful approach to Pakistan was undermined at every turn by the “drone ‘em and run” lobbies in the White House, Pentagon and CIA.
The fear is that the new man, Richard Olson, may be more in tune with the view from several thousands of miles away. Having served in Kabul has he swallowed the anti-Pakistan line peddled by Afghan intelligence that Islamabad is to blame for all the country’s ills? And will he view Pakistan only through the Haqqani-coloured, security prism of Afghanistan?
The Express Tribune has reheated an old story (from a hearing before the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee in August) this morning that suggests indeed he might…
… he said that the greatest challenge facing the US was to convince Pakistan to act against the deadly Afghan insurgent group, the Haqqani network, which is believed to have sanctuaries in the North Waziristan Agency.
“I can assure you, senator, that this will be a primary focus of my activities and diplomatic engagement with the Pakistanis, to encourage further measures against the Haqqani network, further squeezing of the Haqqani network,” was his response to question asked by head of the committee Senator John Kerry.
Serious and productive relations between these two countries require Washington to recognise that there is more to Pakistan than three letters of Af-Pak.