Stories about Washington

Hafiz Saeed: Missing pieces?

Hafiz Saeed, a mujahid and philanthropist in the eyes of many Pakistanis is basking in the limelight thrown on him by the US State Department when it placed a $10 million reward for information leading to his conviction under the Reward for Justice Programme. Saeed’s followers point towards the fact that because he demanded for the closure of the Nato supply route, the personal vendetta has been unleashed. The reality, however, is not that simple. Lashkar-e-Taiba, believed to be a militant arm of Jamatud Dawa, was designated as a foreign terrorist organisation in December 2001 by the US while its ...

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Why announce a bounty on Hafiz Saeed?

Why now? At a critical moment in the US-Pakistan relationship, with parliamentary debate raging in Pakistan about how to realign relations with Washington, and with the United States desperate to forge some level of cooperation with Islamabad to help move toward the elusive endgame in Afghanistan, why announce a bounty for “information leading to the arrest or conviction” of living-openly-in-Lahore Hafiz Saeed? This is, after all, a man Washington and New Delhi regard as a terrorist, yet whom many in Pakistan regard as a heroic symbol of defiance toward the United States, an essential strategic asset, or both. In short, Washington’s ...

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Was war always on the cards for Iran?

Iran has always played the role of the odd one out in the international arena. Its stand-out stance from the rest of the world has distinguished it from others and as a result, it is left isolated. There has been a lot of conjecture about an attack on Iran’s nuclear installations, whether from Israel or the US. Iran has always been cooperative with the IAEA over the years but somehow they have been portrayed as an uncooperative, rogue state. Just a week ago, Iran agreed to allow UN inspectors to inspect its notorious nuclear facility against the odds. However, the dust ...

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Overtures from Washington

There are clear and unmistakable signs of a possible thaw emerging between Washington and Islamabad, with the head of the US Central Command expected to visit the Pakistani capital this month. Both sides are counting the threads of converging interests and a strategic rethink is taking shape on Pakistan’s possible role in US talks with the Taliban. The deadly Nato attack on a Pakistani border post on November 26 last year had virtually frozen the relationship at both political and military levels, leaving the US to embark on a solo journey in uncharted waters as Washington engaged the Taliban for the ...

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Obama’s Wars: Exposing Pakistan’s demons

Bob Woodward’s book, “Obama’s Wars” has opened a Pandora ’s box of controversy. The government’s rebuttals notwithstanding, Ambassador Hussain Haqqani’s comparison of Pakistan to a woman eager to be wooed, President Zardari’s astounding query about possible US support for the Pakistani Taliban and the portrayal of General Kayani as an international man of mystery will generate heated debate locally. Most gruesome and heartrending of all revelations however, is of course our President’s comments on civilian casualties. President Zardari is reported to have said to then Director CIA Gen Hayden: “Collateral damage worries you Americans. It does not worry me.” It is difficult to ...

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Making friends in the new world order

“We need to accept responsibility for America’s unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles” (Statement of Principles, Project for the New American Century, June 3rd, 1997) While reading this statement, one inevitably notices the emphasis on the word “our.” Besides, when the US President says “God Bless America”, one wonders, “Ok, God Bless America…but what about the rest of us?” These are the questions that arise in the minds of Pakistanis and these are the concerns that Hillary Clinton attempted to address (quite unsuccessfully) in her recent charity trip to Pakistan. Today, America stands at ...

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Mind games in DC: Give and take for Kashmir

Several Pakistani intellectuals who had descended on Washington DC to attend the 11th International Kashmir Peace Conference (July 28-29, 2010) were neither intellectuals nor interested in peace. Wasting time and resources, Pakistani representatives (with a few exceptions) read from a script crafted decades ago at the GHQ – only changing the words slightly. I bet if you took the text of their speeches and ran it through sophisticated software to check intellectual integrity you would find an abundance of plagiarism. Negativity of approach was so overwhelming that ‘Kashmir issue’ lost more currency, instead of gaining ground. With WikiLeaks dominating the mind share, American ...

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Pakistan’s unhealthy focus on US, UK, India

Pop quiz: do you know Pakistan’s Ambassador to Chile, Malaysia, Venezuela, Brazil, or Russia? It is very likely that you don’t and, there is a reason – these countries don’t get adequate visibility in Pakistan. Hussain Haqqani (USA), Wajid Shamsul Hassan (UK) and, Shahid Malik (India) are the few ambassadors that Pakistani media finds relevant, relegating all others to secondary and tertiary positions. Every country has their list of top 10, top 25, top 50, and “rest of the world” often referred to in international parlance as “ROW” but Pakistan’s foreign policy lacks depth and width. At the United Nations in New York, ...

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