Pakistan and US relations have been strained for sometime now. But this is more than a ‘we agree to disagree’ situation between friends. In case you want to keep track of the international soap opera it all started with America filling Osama bin Laden with lead. This ruffled the feathers of Pakistan. It’s understandable. We flew into their borders under cover of night – unauthorized, and showed the world their ability to defend themselves is marginal. We then successfully raided a compound they had been lying about and then whacked a guy they had been hiding. Come on, that’s a face push and if it was you, after you wiped the egg from your face, you’d be upset, too. Ironically, because of the Pakistani double-dealing, we had reason to be frosty to them.
So with both countries grinding their teeth, an accidental drone strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers was a bad mistake indeed. Having already lost face big time, Pakistani officials had to stand tall and called the tragic accident an “unprovoked and indiscriminate” attack, as though it was intentional. Retributive talks between commanders on the ground resulted in nothing productive. What did you expect? Committed by their aggressive rhetoric, Pakistan officials have to play hardball. Irritation increased.
Pakistan then closed military supply lines in November. Washington snorted, scowled, glared and requested the lines be re-opened. Pakistan said bite me. Tempers increased and time passed.
In early May, the House voted to cut funding for Pakistan. Pretending money means nothing, Pakistan turned the screws. Fine, they responded, to re-open the supply lines, rather than $250, now the per truck fee is $5,000, make the checks payable to Islamabad. Well, thankfully, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was raised before this anti-capitalism movement, so he knows a good deal from a bad one, and as you would expect, on May 20th, he told Pakistan to pound sand.
And then, apparently not willing to wait for the return counter-jab, a senate panel on Tuesday approved a foreign aid budget that slashed Islamabad’s cash by more than half. Ouch.
So on Wednesday, Pakistan responded. They threw a U.S. intelligence asset, a man who helped find bin Laden, Dr. Shakil Afridi, in the slammer for 33 years. Did Washington counter? You bet. Boys will be boys after all. The senate panel voted on Thursday to attach an amendment to the previously trimmed Pakistan funding. They slashed an additional $33 million in aid — $1 million for every year of the doctor’s conviction. Take that.
Presently, we’re waiting for Pakistan’s next petty torment.
And so here we sit watching two international allies have at each other. Pakistan throws out insults and obstacles and Washington counters with slash the cash. It’s like a bad marriage, where both parties are so full of bitterness they drool at the thought of sticking it to each other. Looking from the outside in, sometimes the drama is very entertaining but, like constantly bickering neighbors, ultimately it gets tiresome.
Too bad there isn’t an International Divorce Court where ‘irreconcilable differences’ could be filed and both parties could start fresh with someone new.