The US Ambassador to Pakistan has worked tirelessly to put US-Pakistan relations on a positive track and both he and his wife have earned the respect of Pakistanis. He was expected to stay at least another year so there is much speculation on the reasons behind his early departure especially because the announcement comes soon after the US Secretary of State stated in India that the US believed that Ayman al Zawahiri was in Pakistan and that the US wanted Hafiz Saeed brought to justice. Ambassador Munter has been trying to find middle ground in the stand-off between the US and Pakistan and there is no doubt that he discerned the pragmatic opinion in Pakistan that wants the relationship revived and the drift into corners that overrules this pragmatism. The US talks to Pakistan from a position of strength as it is perhaps the only country that has the power to shape external environments in pursuit of its interests. The US-India relationship gets a boost whenever high ranking US officials speak down to Pakistan from India and no doubt this goes down well with the Afghan government too. Pakistan understands the coercion and pressure especially when all US aid is tied to US determination of Pakistan’s cooperation on counter-terrorism operations and actions against the use of IED’s. The US has clearly spelt out that there will be no apology from the US over the Salala incident in which twenty four Pakistani soldiers were killed by US forces and no change in the policy on Drone strikes. The US has kicked the ball fully and squarely into the Pakistani court. The next call has to be by the government of Pakistan-an elected government that is trying desperately to balance civil-military relations and establish civilian supremacy over national security policy formulation.
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