A Pakistani parliamentary committee is demanding an apology from the United States for the November 26 NATO attack that killed 24 soldiers. Further calls are being made to stop using American drones on the countries territory as a bargaining tool for renewing relations between Pakistan and the US. I believe that the US should pay attention to these calls because a healthy relationship with Pakistan is so important to America's ability to combat militants in the future.
The Pakistani government holds the key to combating militants in the region and the U.S. would be wise to rebuild relations with their partner in the war on terror. A simple way of mending the relationship would be for the U.S. to become humble and apologize, as a Pakistani parliamentary committee is now calling for. If the U.S. and Pakistan had a friendlier relationship, the two countries would more easily be able to track down terrorist and Taliban figures that still pose a threat.
The U.S. has been involved in Pakistan – positively and negatively – since 1947. The turbulent relationship has been blowing hot and cold for years and peaked on September 11, 2001, when Pakistan asked to help the US in its efforts to combat terrorism. The U.S. provides Pakistan with both economic and military assistance that is vital to stabilize the region by closing down terrorists training camps, providing supply routes into Afghanistan, and providing intelligence on activities of known militant groups. The U.S.-Pakistani relationship needs to be strengthened now more than ever with the renewed commitment to pull out of Afghanistan.
The U.S. must continue to strengthen the relationship with Pakistan through foreign aid programs. Alleviating debt in the country and providing an extensive education program to turn people away from terrorism has been the humanitarian focus of U.S. interests with Pakistan. On the military side, the U.S. has been the second biggest arms supplier after China to Pakistan, arms sales that contribute significantly to the U.S. arms industry. On the political level, having the ability to have a set of eyes and ears in a part of the world that is hostile to U.S. interests is critical when maintaining global security.
Pakistan has mostly turned a blind eye to many transgressions committed by the U.S. including the consistent use of drones to carry out cross border attacks, raids in the country without notifying the relevant authorities, misuse of supply routes into Afghanistan, and the use of military outposts. It seems only right that Pakistan should require the bigger power to concede in some areas.
Some American analysts fear the collapse of U.S. power, as countries like Pakistan are able to manipulate international terror threats for their own financial benefit. Others will suggest that the U.S. should not antagonize Pakistan, as the war in Afghanistan cannot be won without its help. Whether the parliament of Pakistan will actually make the United States pay taxes for using their facilities and put an end to drone attack remains to be seen. One thing that is for certain, Pakistan remains a significant issue for US. diplomatic efforts.
Barack Obama has extended America’s hand before with a strategic partnership deal worth $1.5 billion in non-military assistance to Pakistan. That money should not go to waste and all attempts to rebuild the relationship with Pakistan should be a top priority for American policy makers. If Pakistan wants the U.S. to say sorry for blatant violation of sovereignty, then even though the words are hard to say, it is completely in America’s interests to say sorry.