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A Critical Look At US-Pakistan Relations


Ajay Darshan Behera

DEADLY EMBRACE: PAKISTAN, AMERICA AND THE FUTURE OF THE GLOBAL JIHAD
By Bruce Riedel
Harper Collins Publishers, New Delhi, 2011, pp. 180, Rs. 499.00

VOLUME XXXV NUMBER 8-9 August-September 2011

The nature of the US-Pakistan relationship has been very difficult for many analysts to fathom. Is it a relationship based on some broad principles and common objectives or is it an opportunistic alliance—from which neither is able to disengage? That there is little trust between the two countries has been obvious over the years. It was made amply clear by the American raid on a compound located near the premier Pakistan Military Academy in Abbottabad to kill Osama bin Laden. And since then US-Pakistan relations have been on a downward spiral. A review of the current US-Pakistan relations points to the deep mistrust that exists between the two. Bruce Riedel's book predates the discovery of bin Laden holed up in Pakistan for five years probably with the knowledge of the Pakistan Army and in many senses forewarns of a coming crisis. It is a harsh account of Pakistan's role in the war on terrorism. Riedel, a former CIA official and now a Senior Fellow at the Saban Centre at the Brookings Institute, Washington, DC, served the US administration under four Presidents. He first came into limelight with his account of the meeting between President Clinton and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on 4 July 1999 at Blair House in an attempt to diffuse the Kargil crisis. More recently in 2009, he conducted the strategic review of policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan for President Obama. Riedel in his public positions does not hold much sympathy for the Pakistani ruling elites. Though in the book, he recognizes that Pakistanis and Americans have entirely different narratives about their bilateral relationship. Pakistan speaks of America's continual betrayal, of America promising much and delivering little. America finds Pakistan duplicitous, saying one thing and doing another. Americans want Pakistan to focus on the global threat, be it Communism or Jihadism. Pakistanis want to concentrate on the threat from India. American policy towards Pakistan has oscillated wildly in the last sixty years. At times—under the Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan and George W. Bush administrations—the US was enamoured of Pakistan's dictators and embraced them without question. At other times—under Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton—the US imposed sanctions on Pakistan, blaming it for provoking wars and developing nuclear weapons. While Riedel in this slim volume manages to capture the historical trajectory this is not a book on US-Pakistan relations in the traditional sense. As the ...


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