On Monday, November 28, tensions rose in an already rocky relationship between the United States and Pakistan. After a NATO aircraft accidentally killed 2 dozen Pakistani troops, the Prime Minister of Pakistan warned the United States that things would not be “business as usual.” Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani stated that he wanted to maintain a working relationship with America so long as “there is mutual respect and respect for Pakistani Sovereignty.” At the moment, he believes this is not the case.
While currently, it is not clear the exact specifics of NATO’s miscue, NATO called it a “tragic unintended event.” In the aftermath, Pakistani citizens have been furious and members of the Pakistani Taliban have called for Gilani to retaliate, stating that “jihad will continue so long as Pakistan is an ally of the United States”. Gilani addressed the gravity of the situation to the Americans, stating “”You cannot win any war without the support of the masses … and such sort of incidents makes people move away from this situation.”
The relationship between the United States and Pakistan has never been good, but has always been crucially important. With the United States engaged in a “war on terror” across the border in Afghanistan, the cooperation of the Pakistani government is absolutely necessary for the NATO coalition to succeed in their war. Yet the relationship between the two nations is far from cozy. A recent article called Pakistan an “Ally from Hell,” stating that
“Pakistan lies. It hosted Osama bin Laden (knowingly or not). Its government is barely functional. It hates the democracy next door. It is home to both radical jihadists and a large and growing nuclear arsenal (which it fears the U.S. will seize). Its intelligence service sponsors terrorists who attack American troops. With a friend like this, who needs enemies?”
So what really is the relationship between the United States and Pakistan? What should it be? Should we continue to work with a nation that underhandedly advocates for the terrorism we seek to avoid? Also, did the United States infringe on Pakistan’s sovereignty in this NATO “accident?” If so, what should the international community do about it?