Where next for US-Pakistan relations?

 
Osama Bin Laden, in a still from a video released by the US government Mr Obama said anyone who questioned the morality of killing Bin Laden "needs their heads examined"

After initial embarrassment that Osama Bin Laden was hiding in the Pakistani equivalent of a suburb of Sandhurst or West Point, almost in sight of an important intelligence service base, Pakistan's Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani has called for the criticism of his country to end.

That won't wash in the US. Indeed, the speech hasn't been covered on the domestic TV networks.

President Barack Obama says this is an important moment when Pakistan and the United States can decide to work more effectively together.

Others would be more blunt. They see it as a moment to keep up the media and congressional criticism to force the Pakistani government to flush out al-Qaeda supporters within its own ranks after this humiliation.

From the very start of his presidency, Mr Obama's administration has made it clear there is no such thing as an Afghan strategy. First it was an Af-Pak strategy. Then it became Pak-Af. Whatever you call it, there is an acknowledgement that Pakistan may be the more important country in the fight against al-Qaeda. Everyone in the know believes some members of the government and particularly the intelligence service are hand-in-glove with the jihadists and must have known what Bin Laden was up to.

Equally, they understand those members of the Pakistani government who are hostile to the extremists and fundamentalists are looking over their shoulders at an electorate not keen on those it sees as America's puppets.

Still, the US has given Pakistan $18bn in aid since 2002. One veteran member of the US Congress has said that before another dime is sent, Pakistan has to decide whose side it's on. Another has said there should be more strings attached.

Aid probably won't be cut but it adds up to more political pressure on Pakistan to come up with the goods in future.

While this debate will go on, the Mr Obama doesn't have to worry about some of the concerns expressed in the rest of the world about the legality or morality of killing Bin Laden. It has hardly been raised by anyone here in the US, and the president has said that anyone who questions taking the al-Qaeda leader out "needs their heads examined".

 
Mark Mardell, North America editor Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell North America editor

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  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 30.

    Why do we blame for a problem that belongs to us all? Are we not all responsible for this war on terror? The Russians gave Bin Laden cause to fight; the US gave him the means to fight and Pakistan gave him a haven to fight from.
    Yet when Bin Laden's guns turned on us we turned a blind eye from the truth and blamed him and the Pakistanis but we forgot to recognise our part.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 23.

    There are four countries responsible for the constant unrest:
    1. India for for obtaining Kashmir by bribing the Maharaja and ignoring the wishes of the people.
    2. Pakistan for trying to play the terrorist card to get back at India and unrealistically expecting positive results.
    3. Afghanistan for being a feudal going on failed state.
    4. The US for getting involved in the conflicts in this area

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 8.

    It will take both time and sustained pressure on Pakistan to force its political and military leadership to allow democratic institutions to develop to run a civilized, democracy. It seems that old Pakistani "leaders" have no foresight, wisdom, (political and military) remuneration and ability to do that. It need new generation of Pakistani politicians with less feudal and religious mentality.

 
 

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