The U.S.-Pakistani spat that marked a new low in the relations of the two countries is, by now, practically over and the winner has emerged: Pakistan. The unprecedented Pakistan-bashing by the American top military officer, Adm. Mike Mullen, itself reflecting the wider view within the American armed forces, has now given way to quiet diplomacy. In the face of barrage of verbal assaults from the Americans, the Pakistani political and military establishments successfully managed to mobilize the domestic political forces against what they saw as a serious threat.
After only the first few days, they were able to make angry Americans tone down their harsh rhetoric and come to accept what Pakistan calls that country's "legitimate interests" in Afghanistan. President Obama personally intervened in the hot issue; going to the extent of stating that the intelligence based on which Adm. Mike Mullen had made his allegations was not reliable.
On closer investigation, it appears that the grim criticisms of Americans calling the Haqqani network a "veritable arm" of the Pakistan's principal Intelligence agency was certainly born out of the overflowing American frustration with its unsuccessful efforts so far to rope in the rogue Haqqanis and make them accept some sort of a deal.
As reports suggest, even before the brawl started, Pakistani security agencies had helped the U.S. meet Ibrahim Haqqani, the son of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the Haqqani network's overall commander. Ibrahim Haqqani is a senior commander of the network.
As it has emerged, while the U.S. was still busy making an outreach to Haqqanis with the help of Pakistani security agencies, it decided to pull off this media blitzkrieg, a full-fledged public relations operation, with an objective of pressuring Pakistan and its security agencies and making them do more in the outreach process.
What this means is that while the U.S. was unleashing its barrage of verbal assaults on Pakistan and its security agencies, it was, at the same time, being helped by the same agencies to establish contacts with the Haqqani network. Now it has become apparent that this political show was intended to be a PR, media blitzkrieg, one to help the U.S. reap political mileage from and help it in its dealings with an unruly, trouble-making Haqqani network.
The U.S., clearly, is in dire straits as far as the Haqqanis are concerned. As the deadline of 2014 draws closer, so increases American desperation to wind down the war in Afghanistan, reach some sort of settlement with the main insurgent groups such as Taliban and the Haqqani group and bring about relative stability or even a semblance of it.
Achieving relative stability and stemming the rising tide of war with mounting casualties from all sides is central not only to American plans but also to the long-term programs undertaken by the government of Afghanistan to reach a political resolution of the conflicts. The U.S. clearly knows and understands the indispensable role of Pakistan in roping in and taming of various militant groups including the Haqqani network and the Taliban.
The government of Afghanistan, unfortunately, is nowhere to figure in these hectic regional power dynamics. If anything, we expected a more robust and pro-active regional diplomacy from the government in Kabul. Is it not that the government of Afghanistan should be as involved in the process of reaching out to militant groups as are currently the U.S. and Pakistan? What is happening to the much-hyped objective of "Afghan-led" peace process that the government in Kabul used to so passionately insist upon? It is time for our government to pull itself together and be a better guardian of national interests.