The U.S. commander of ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) in Afghanistan, General John R. Allen came to Islamabad briefly on his first visit to Pakistan since the seven-month blockade on the NATO supplies was lifted on July 3 and post-MoU signing on July 31 between the two allies against terrorism to regularize NATO supplies till 2015. The deal goes beyond the withdrawal date of the NATO troops in 2014.
To come to think of the reopening of these NATO supplies merely on the condition of being presented with a “soft apology”, which the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) vehemently “regretted”, seems to be a wrong tactic that Pakistani civil-military leadership accepted. To further present “requests” than “apologies” or “regrets”, General Allen is making his visit in particular to discuss important security matters regarding Afghanistan-Pakistan border with General
Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. Such visits laden with further demands are termed in the Western media as “efforts” to repair Pakistan-US political and military relations. These days, the ISI Chief Lieutenant General Zaheerul Islam is in Washington, D.C. to present Pakistan’s side of the deal.
The primary demand of the U.S. officials is that Pakistan work against the leaders of the Haqqani network in Pakistan, which has been found to have links with Al-Qaeda and Afghan Taliban. Already much tension had been developed between the two neighbours over the shelling and rockets firing carried across the porous border near Afghanistan’s Kunar province. The grievance from Pakistan’s side is about the Pakistani Taliban using Afghanistan as their “safe havens” from where they launch terrorist attacks in northwestern Pakistan.
The much highlighted military operation carried out against Maulana Fazlullah, the head of the Pakistani Taliban, in the Swat valley had failed resulting in the ‘Radio Mullah’s escape. Now, Pakistan military needs to upgrade its level of attack against these terrorists which are actively harming the country. In previous statements to the media, General Allen has said that if Pakistan Army would launch an operation in North Waziristan Agency, then they are prepared for any
spill over that might occur. Oddly enough, that was not the case before NATO supplies were stopped. This makes it the first time that “operational coordination” has even been mentioned by the ISAF Chief.
In this visit, further “coordinated actions” have been discussed between Afghanistan National Security Force, Pakistan Military and the ISAF. Such military coordination should have been harmonized decades ago, when the U.S. started its mission on War on Terror in Afghanistan. Lack of this very harmony has resulted in higher costs for Pakistan and its military then its opponents would dare to acknowledge.
However, one aspect of the soldiers at the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan has been discussed in particular just to abate the tensions that have recently surfaced. Pakistan military has been espousing the same stand since day one about the whole operational matter, but with lack of coordination as executed by the ISAF has not achieved means to that end. Now that this has been put to words, hopefully it will also be put to works by the ISAF. General Allen said that the partnership has progressed to being “carefully defined”. If the careful definition includes proper coordination of efforts in operations against these terrorists that harm Pakistan, then the definition would really get its meaning.