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'Deep freeze' in US-Pakistan ties; talk of future Indian role

Saturday December 03, 2011 05:04:28 PM, Arun Kumar, IANS

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Washington: As US-Pakistan ties go into "deep freeze" over the NATO strike along the Afghanistan border that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, Islamabad has refused to participate in the probe of the incident even as there is speculation here that India could play a "much larger role" in Afghanistan in the not too distant future.

The US has asked Pakistan to be part of the investigation, but the Pakistanis have "elected to date" to not participate, department spokesman George Little said Friday referring to the bombing as a "bump in the road" for US-Pakistani counterterrorism co-operation.

As the US-Pakistan relationship hit an all-time low over the incident, US and Pakistani officials both said there was communication between the two sides before the controversial airstrike last weekend, but they differed on the content of those conversations.

US officials said Pakistani troops had "given the go-ahead" for the strikes, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday. CNN also cited two unnamed US officials as saying US troops did not tell Pakistani authorities about the mission ahead of time, because they thought it would take place entirely within Afghanistan.

CBS cited Pakistani military officials as saying US officials gave Pakistan soldiers the wrong location when asking for clearance to attack militants along the border.

Commenting on the "deep freeze" in US-Pakistan relationship over the incident, Foreign Policy magazine said Islamabad enjoys significant leverage over Washington, but it won't last forever.

"As long as the United States maintains a large force in Afghanistan requiring long supply convoys through Pakistan, Islamabad will perversely have an incentive to maintain a certain level of friction with the United States, since past blow-ups have usually resulted in the arrival of new gifts," it said.

"The location of the Taliban's camps and the perverse incentives that result from US dependency on Pakistan ensure that more incidents of this type are likely," the magazine said. But by 2015, with the drawdown of US troops," the game in Afghanistan will have a new rulebook."

"Some Afghan officials, with perhaps an expanded security relationship with India, may prefer a more aggressive strategy than the US has thus far employed against Afghan Taliban sanctuaries inside Pakistan," it said.

"The United States will have to adjust to more self-reliant Afghan counterparts and likely a much larger Indian role in the country," the highly regarded magazine said.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at





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