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Violence, arrogance and double game strain US-Pakistan relations

The US has accused Pakistani intelligence of supporting the group behind last week's attack on the US Embassy in Kabul – claims denied by Pakistan. In turn, the Pakistanis express their anger over increased civilian casualties from US drone attacks.

­However, despite the developing blame game, war correspondent Eric Margolis does not see a collapse in US-Pakistani relations.

“The US is sort of handcuffed to Pakistan, unhappily, and the other way around even more,” he told RT. “After 9/11 the US put a gun to Pakistan’s head and said: ‘Co-operate and open up your airfields, and use your army and the intelligence service, give it to us, let us attack the Taliban – which was partially a creation of Pakistan – and…we are going to go to war with you.’ So, Pakistan gave in.”

Margolis points out, however, that this is a very reluctant co-operation, because more than 90 per cent of Pakistanis support the Taliban and consider America now to be an enemy of Pakistan. Nevertheless, the Americans are not able to wage their war in Afghanistan without the help of Pakistan, he said, primarily because of the country’s strategic geographic location.

“If Washington couldn’t use Pakistani territory to supply its allies – because supply is the key to this war – it would have to give up and withdraw most of its troops, it just couldn’t supply them,” he explained.

With all that, Pakistan enjoys significant financial support from the United States, the journalist went on to explain. “[Americans] are giving Pakistan $4.4 billion each year to maintain this relationship,” he said.

“Pakistan for its part is playing a double game, as the US accuses it of doing,” Margolis continued. “But why not? Because Afghanistan is Pakistan’s backyard, it’s its near abroad. And the Pakistanis believe that the US will eventually withdraw and give up on Afghanistan. They want to be in a position to manage affairs in Afghanistan.”

The situation around the US-Pakistan relationship remains very volatile and unpredictable, the war correspondent pointed out. But the most probable scenario is that it is going to get even worse, he predicted.

“Pakistan’s US-installed government will collapse pretty soon. Everything depends on the Pakistani army, which is increasingly angry with the United States,” he said. “Pakistan is bankrupt. It’s got to have American money and money from the US-run International Monetary Fund. So, the Pakistanis will have to continue playing with them.”

The journalist notes that the Americans have to rely on the Pakistanis for the time being, but it is unlikely to last long.

“There’s a growing move in the US Congress, as we just saw today, to cut off aid to Pakistan and punish it in other ways, particularly from the Republicans. So, it’s a very volatile, unpredictable situation,” Margolis concluded.

Pakistani political expert and president of the Paknationalists Forum, Ahmed Quraishi, says relations between the two sides will never improve until the US stops ignoring the views of its partner.

“The problem here is, if you speak to Pakistani officials, they’ll tell you they are facing difficulties in seeing their American counterparts showing any kind of understanding to Pakistan’s strategic interests,” he told RT. “Two allies working in Afghanistan – it would be natural that there would be diverging opinions, but there is little patience in Washington to listen to Pakistani explanations for what or how they would like things to move forward in the region.”

The political expert points out that Washington’s arrogance is at the core of the problem.

“It just seems to many Pakistani officials, especially diplomats in the Pakistani Foreign Office, that somehow Washington is expecting Pakistan to simply put up and shut up, and just follow whatever vision for the strategic situation in this region is in Washington,” he concluded.

American journalist John Glaser says the US wants to be recognized as the world's policeman, but that it turns a blind eye to the violence it causes itself.

“The US government is being a little too aggressive. I mean, they are upset with Pakistan for what they call a ‘proxy war’ through the Haqqani network into Afghanistan, but the US is running their own brutal war in Afghanistan,” he told RT. “The Afghan national police, which is the group that is funded and trained by the United States government, they have been terrorizing local communities and villages throughout Afghanistan for years. Human Rights Watch just came up with a report condemning them for killings, illegal detentions, rape, murder, abductions, so on and so forth – that’s a proxy war.”

“What’s strange is that when the Pakistanis do it, the US calls it ‘terrorism’, and when the US does it, it’s called ‘counter-terrorism’,” Glaser explained.

“So the relationship is inherently contradictory, and they are both playing the same sort of bad game. The only question is how many more civilians have to die for these to, sort of, level out the power play?” the journalist asked.