This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
1954-2016: KRONSTADT’S BRIEF FOR US CONGRESS
April: relations worsen
Ties between US and Pakistan continue to spiral down with reports suggesting both countries are poised to constraint diplomats from the other side from free movement
The situation has been aggravated by what some sections of the Pakistani media saw as humiliating treatment of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi during a recent visit to the US
Crossed red lines, jumped red lights and a relationship that is anything but red hot. The already frigid and flaccid ties between the United States and Pakistan continue to spiral down with reports suggesting both countries are poised to constraint diplomats from the other side from free movement in tit-for-tat action following yet another spat involving what Islamabad alleges is reckless behaviour by an American diplomat.
The new row, recalling the notorious Raymond David episode in 2011 in which an undercover CIA contractor was charged with killing two Pakistanis in a highway shootout, centers this time on US military attaché Col Joseph Emanuel. In footage that has been widely and repeatedly telecast on Pakistani television since the April 7 incident, the American official allegedly jumped a red light in Islamabad, smashing into a motorcycle coming crossroad and causing the death of the rider and injury to one other person.
He was apprehended by Pakistani authorities after he left the scene and taken to a police station, but he had to be freed on account of his having diplomatic immunity as per the Geneva Convention. He remains at the US mission in Islamabad, amid continuing tensions about a resolution to the case.
Pakistani officials have since been insisting that Col Emanuel be prosecuted and put on trial either in Pakistan or in the US, even as the family of the man killed has gone to court demanding that he be arrested, and the police have sought to put him on the exit control list. Apologies from the US Ambassador over the accident after he was summoned to the Pakistani foreign office has not pacified hardliners in the Pakistani establishment already smarting under Washington’s tough new policy towards Islamabad, including holding it accountable for terrorism-related incidents.
While the Raymond Davis case was largely resolved by paying blood money to families of the victims, the establishment in Pakistan does not appear to be considering such a possibility this time. The situation has been aggravated by what some sections of the Pakistani media saw as humiliating treatment of the country’s prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi during a recent visit to the US, when he had to go through security checks sans protocol, although Abbasi himself maintained he was on a private visit and did not mind the checks.
It now transpires that both sides are hardening their positions, with Washington reportedly notifying Pakistan that its diplomats in Washington DC will have to get special permission to travel beyond a 40km perimeter around the capital. While officials in Islamabad and Washington have denied the new strictures arise from the Col Emanuel episode (the US notification predates the Emanuel incident), the Dawn newspaper reported that notice to this effect was shared with the Pakistan Embassy in Washington and sent also to the ministry of foreign affairs in Islamabad, indicating that the restrictions could be imposed from May 1 if certain issues remained unresolved.
The unresolved issues are many. Even before the current spat and Washington’s hardball response, Pakistan had not endeared itself to the Trump administration with its relentless patronage of terrorist groups and extremist leaders despite mealy-mouthed pledges that it is cracking down on terrorism. Islamabad’s attempt to mainstream UN- and US-designated terrorist leaders such as Hafiz Saeed, under the specious excuse that its courts had not convicted, did not go down well with the Trump administration given the copious evidence of his involvement in terrorism and Pakistan’s glossing over it and dragging its feet on prosecuting those involved in 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai.
Pakistan’s continued defiance of the US Afghanistan and South Asia strategy -- part of which involves recognising and acknowledging India’s primacy in the region -- has also turned off the Trump administration as it seeks a safe exit from the region.
Travel curbs on Pakistani diplomats
A senior official of the Trump administration has confirmed that Washington will impose travel restrictions on Pakistani diplomats in the US from May 1, stating that they would not be allowed to move freely without permission from relevant authorities in the state department.
In an interview with Voice of America’s (VOA’s) Uzbek service, US under secretary of state for political affairs Thomas Shannon said this restriction was placed in response to the same conditions imposed by Islamabad on US diplomats in Pakistan.
The Trump administration had recently communicated to Islamabad that its diplomats stationed at their embassy in Washington and at consulates in other cities would seek permission at least five days ahead of an intended travel beyond 40km from their offices. “Our diplomats are under travel restrictions. They can travel further than 40km, but they have to notify the government of Pakistan. It’s very common in diplomacy,” Shannon said.
According to Pakistani authorities, they have not imposed any travel restrictions on US diplomats but have taken security measures intended to protect them. They argue that the state department also does not allow its diplomats in Pakistan to visit volatile tribal regions bordering Afghanistan, Karachi and certain other places out of security concerns.
The US official also stressed the need for Pakistan to step up pressure on militants, who still have a presence in the country. Shannon said that Islamabad also needed to understand the concerns of Central Asian countries about “remnants” of militancy in Pakistan. “I’m not sure how much we can help... this is really something that the Pakistanis have to understand.”
Nov: Trump, Imran troll each other; further decline in ties
US President Trump and Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan trolled each other on Twitter on Monday with snide remarks pointing to a continued dysfunction in ties between two countries stuck in a mutually recriminatory loop.
Following a Fox News interview over the weekend in which President Trump accused Pakistan of hiding Osama bin Laden and berated it for not doing a “damn thing” for the United States, Khan pushed back on Monday tweeting, “Instead of making Pakistan a scapegoat for their failures, the US should do a serious assessment of why, despite 140000 NATO troops plus 250,000 Afghan troops & reportedly $1trillion spent on war in Afghanistan, the Taliban today are stronger than before.”
“Record needs to be put straight on Mr Trump’s tirade against Pakistan: 1. No Pakistani was involved in 9/11 but Pak decided to participate in US War on Terror. 2. Pakistan suffered 75,000 casualties in this war & over $123 bn was lost to economy. US ‘aid’ was a miniscule $20 bn,” he said in a second tweet.
In a third tweet, Khan said “Our tribal areas were devastated & millions of ppl uprooted from their homes. The war drastically impacted lives of ordinary Pakistanis, “ before asking, “Pak continues to provide free lines of ground & air communications . Can Mr Trump name another ally that gave such sacrifices?”
Earlier, Dr Shireen Mazari, minister for human rights in Khan’s cabinet, responded to POTUS acerbically on Twitter. Trump, she said, “suffers conveniently from perpetual amnesia!” His statement “should be a lesson for those Pakistani leaders who kept appeasing the US especially after 9/11”, she tweeted.
Within four hours of Khan’s tweets, Trump returned to the subject again, tweeting, “Of course we should have captured Osama Bin Laden long before we did. I pointed him out in my book just BEFORE the attack on the World Trade Center. President Clinton famously missed his shot. We paid Pakistan Billions of Dollars & they never told us he was living there. Fools!..”
“....We no longer pay Pakistan the $Billions because they would take our money and do nothing for us, Bin Laden being a prime example, Afghanistan being another. They were just one of many countries that take from the US without giving anything in return. That’s ENDING!” he added.
Trump’s Twitter tirade also involved retired US Admiral William McRaven, who led the operation that killed bin Laden, and who has since criticised Trump on various issues, including his denigration of the media and his attacks against ex-CIA chief John Brennan. Trump dismissed McRaven as a “Hilary Clinton backer and an Obama-backer”, in the Fox interview although the admiral had made nopolitical pronouncement before Trump began attacking the US security establishment.
US revises visa policy for Pakistanis
The visa duration for Pakistani nationals has been reduced to three months from five years, said a spokesperson of the US embassy in Pakistan.
Apart from civilians, the new visa policy will also be applicable to Pakistani journalists. The scribes will be issued visas for three months, ARY News reported quoting the US embassy spokesperson.
The US government has also increased visa application fees for the Pakistani citizens to $192 from $160.
The move, announced on Tuesday, comes after Pakistan took reciprocal steps in modifying the visa policy for US citizens, including reduction of visa period and fee increment in applying for the document, the spokesperson said.
However, issuance of visas to the government officials will be made in view of their working period by the US administration, the spokesperson added.
In May last year, Pakistan foreign ministry had announced travel restrictions on US diplomats in a tit-for-tat move, after the US had imposed similar restrictions on Pakistani diplomats in that month, amid the rocky ties between Islamabad and Washington.
The US government had stated that Pakistani diplomats at its embassy in Washington DC and consulates will not be allowed to travel over 40 km from their posts without prior permission, according to ARY News.
Washington has repeatedly told Islamabad + that it should take to stop providing support and safe haven to terrorists operating in Pakistani soil.
This came in the wake of the terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on February 14, which claimed the lives of 40 CRPF personnel + , the responsibility of which was claimed by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed.
The US has also suspended financial aid worth millions to cash-strapped Pakistan for not taking serious steps to tackle terrorism.
US stalls Turkey’s fighter helicopter sale to Pakistan
The US has stalled the sale of Turkishmade T129 ATAK helicopter gunships to Pakistan, days ahead of the first meeting between PM Imran Khan and President Trump, a media report said.
Turkey and Pakistan signed a $1.5 billion deal for the Turkish-made helicopter gunships on July13, 2018. The delivery date of the first helicopter was pushed back after the Pentagon last year “refused” to issue the Turkish firm with an export license for the delivery of the gunships’ CTS800 engines, which was part of the T129 ATAK helicopter, the EurAsian Times reported.
T129 ATAK ia s multi-role, all-weather attack helicopter. Developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries with partner AgustaWestland, the helicopter is designed for advanced attack and reconnaissance missions in hot and high environments and rough geography in both day and night conditions.
The US’ decision is part of the Trump administration’s move not to provide any security assistance to Pakistan till the time it takes decisive and irreversible actions against terrorist groups. While Turkey is exploring the possibility of engines from other suppliers in Poland and France, the US decision would delay in delivery of T129 ATAK helicopters to Pakistan. The deal was for the delivery of 30 of these helicopters.
Procurement of such helicopters would have given more teeth to Pakistan’s airpower as its current AH-1F Cobra gunships lack the capability to perform adequately over the higher altitudes of the Hindu Kush mountain range, separating Afghanistan and Pakistan, the EurAsian Times reported. PTI