Time to Cool the Rhetoric on Pakistan

However justified, the public berating of Islamabad has become counterproductive

The comments made by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta during his swing through South Asia last week once again raise the question of how coordinated the Obama administration’s regional policy is.  An earlier post flagged this issue two months ago by noting the curious timing of Washington’s decision to offer a large bounty for the arrest or capture of Hafiz Muhammed Saeed, a major jihadi leader allowed to live in plain sight in Pakistan.

True, the decision was overdue and eminently warranted, as Saeed is a man who for too long has escaped the dispensation of justice.  But it was announced in a way sure to rub Islamabad’s already inflamed sensibilities, just as Washington began an effort to salvage collapsing relations with Pakistan.  It was unveiled during a visit to New Delhi by Wendy Sherman, the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, who no doubt wanted to address complaints that the administration was letting Pakistan slide on the issue of anti-Indian terrorism.  But as it was issued on the eve of Deputy Secretary of State Thomas R. Nides’ arrival in Islamabad, the open reminder about their perfidy was a strange way to commence a trip aimed at making nice with Pakistani leaders. Continue reading

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