US Getting Public Diplomacy Wrong in Pakistan

The Americans say all the right sort of things in public, the gentle words that Pakistan wants to hear. They are here for the long haul. They want to rebuild trust. Of course they will work with Pakistan’s security forces on high-profile targets in future.

On the other hand, they are still sifting through the Abbottabad files for evidence of Pakistan state collusion with bin Laden. They won’t rule further unilateral exercises on Pakistani soil. And so far the only intelligence sharing appears to be a not-very opaque ruse to smoke out moles.

Now its Robert Gates, who is nearing the end of his time as US Defense Secretary, who trots out the line in an interview with AP:

Asked whether it was time to take a harder line with Pakistan, Gates counseled patience and noted that the Pakistanis have not forgotten that the U.S. abandoned them in the late 1980s after the Soviets pulled out of Afghanistan.

“We need each other, and this relationship goes beyond Afghanistan,” he said. “It has to do with regional stability, and I think we have to be realistic about Pakistani distrust … and their deep belief that when we’re done with al-Qaida that we’ll be gone, again.”

But the tragic case of Ibad Ejaz-ur-Rehman, mown down by a US vehicle in Lahore suggests that America has only one interest in Pakistan – its own.

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