Islamabad: US diplomatic efforts to persuade
Pakistan to reopen NATO supply lines to the Afghan war are
proving no match for rampant anti-Americanism here, with
Pakistani lawmakers increasingly unwilling to support a
decision that risks them branded as friends of Washington.
Opposition legislators are demanding that the US end its
drone strikes against militants as a precondition,
complicating US strategies for winding down the 10-year war
just weeks before a major NATO conference in President Barack
Obama`s hometown of Chicago.
Relations between the US and Pakistan have been marked by
mistrust since the two countries were thrust together
following the September 11, 2001 attacks, but shared
interests, near-bankrupt Pakistan needs American aid, America
needs Pakistan`s support against al Qaeda, had kept the
alliance more or less intact.
That changed in November when US airstrikes inadvertently
killed 24 Pakistani troops on the Afghan border, triggering
nationwide outrage and retaliation from Pakistan, which
suspended diplomatic contacts and blocked vital land routes
for US and NATO troops in Afghanistan.
Since then, hardline Islamist and banned militant groups
have staged large rallies around the country against any move
to reopen the supply lines.
One of the leaders of the movement has been Hafiz Mohammad
Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group blamed for
the 2008 attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai that killed 166
Yesterday, the US announced a USD 10 million reward for
information leading to the arrest of Saeed, who lives openly
According to many analysts, Saeed has the sympathy or
support of the country`s powerful military establishment,
which shares his hostility to India. The announcement could
therefore be seen as a provocation in Pakistan and further
strain ties with Washington.