I wrote Saturday about the Christmas drone truce, a six-week pause in aerial bombing of suspected terrorists over Pakistan, in reaction to a botched airstrike that killed 24 soldiers. Now it looks like this gesture of goodwill (as if “we won’t bomb your country” should be interpreted that way) will not salvage a robust security relationship, but simply allow the US to get kicked out more gracefully.
With the United States facing the reality that its broad security partnership with Pakistan is over, American officials are seeking to salvage a more limited counterterrorism alliance that they acknowledge will complicate their ability to launch attacks against extremists and move supplies into Afghanistan.
The United States will be forced to restrict drone strikes, limit the number of its spies and soldiers on the ground and spend more to transport supplies through Pakistan to allied troops in Afghanistan, American and Pakistani officials said. United States aid to Pakistan will also be reduced sharply, they said.
“We’ve closed the chapter on the post-9/11 period,” said a senior United States official, who requested anonymity to avoid antagonizing Pakistani officials. “Pakistan has told us very clearly that they are re-evaluating the entire relationship.”
This is an interesting admission from that senior US official, basically acknowledging that, for ten years, Pakistan was a client state, with relatively open borders for US counter-terrorism forces who had impunity to do whatever they wanted. Surprisingly, the public appreciated this relationship less and less, the more they saw it escalate. And the Pakistani government, fearing they would lose their own careers, if not their heads, in the process, is in the process of terminating that client-state relationship or scaling it back sharply.
You can divine all you need to know about this relationship, in that one of the first steps will be to scale back the “kill boxes,” areas along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border where CIA drones are allowed to kill with impunity. Kill boxes! I can’t imagine how that would incite hatred or cause a problem for the sovereign government.
Indeed, just this weekend, over 100,000 Pakistanis rallied with Imran Khan, the former cricketer turned politician, who has gained political fame by criticizing the relationship with the US.
This was always going to collapse. You cannot treat another country like a target range without there being some recriminations. The country in question just happens to have nuclear weapons and seething anger. Well done, everyone.