US, Pakistan seek to restore normal relations

14:45, June 03, 2011      

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The Pakistani government formed an independent five-member commission on May 31 to probe the killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden by U.S. troops in Abbottabad. U.S.-Pakistan ties have fallen to a freezing point since Bin Laden's death. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently made a joint visit to Pakistan in an attempt to repair the bilateral ties.

Mullen said on May 30 that this visit convinced him that Pakistani leaders will continue to cooperate with the United States in areas such as security and intelligence. Currently, the U.S. side still has a strong will to "cooperate" and the Pakistani side also shows an attitude of "cooperation." However, the killing of Bin Laden has made the mutual trust between more fragile, and it seems difficult for U.S.-Pakistan ties to return to normal.

In fact, the United States and Pakistan have maintained a strategic alliance based on complementary interests. The United States needs Pakistan's support in the Afghanistan War and Pakistan needs military and economic assistance from the United States. As for the Afghanistan issue, the "cooperation" between the United States and Pakistan cannot cover their differences in strategic interests.

A survey shows that 60 percent of Americans believed that U.S. troops in Afghanistan have already completed their mission after killing Bin Laden, and it is urgent for the Obama administration to gradually withdraw its military forces from Afghanistan and discuss the possibility of maintaining a "military presence" in Afghanistan after 2014.

Pakistan needs to take into account Afghanistan's political situation and regional situation after the gradual withdrawal of U.S. military forces. Some U.S. military experts said that Pakistan regards Afghanistan as a place that gives it strategic depth in its confrontation with India. The experts criticized the U.S. government for using more mild consultations than serious accusations when dealing with the Pakistani government.

Another core issue in U.S.-Pakistan relations is the Haqqani network. An article on the front page of the Washington Post on May 30 called the Haqqani group a "resilient foe" and "the most feared insurgent family" for the United States on the battlefield. Firmly believing the Haqqani network is closely related to Al-Qaeda, the United States has been accusing the network for operating in the territory of Pakistan and maintaining contact with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence. The United States has sent more troops and drones to east Afghanistan to combat the network. However, the strong resilience of the network still makes the United States deeply uneasy. Therefore, the United States has to seek help from Pakistan.

Afghanistan is frequently hit by bomb attacks under the Taliban's "spring offensive," and NATO also made several mistaken bombings that caused civilian casualties, arousing more public complaints. At present, although the date of the first withdrawal is approaching, the situation of the United States in Afghanistan is not optimistic. How to maintain and deepen the relationship with Pakistan has become the key factor that will help the United States to "get out of the trouble" in Afghanistan.

By Wang Tian, a reporter for People's Daily in the United States

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