Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, August 12th, 2020

Changing Friendship

For the past one decade, the blame game usually got tense between the two conflicting neighboring countries. The somewhat-hostile relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan hindered the process of peace building and war against terrorism. However, the US played significant role in keeping both sides on the route to keep struggles against what is considered as a common threat for all sides. However, the politics prospect has changed slightly. The increasingly tense relations between Pakistan and the US and, on the other hand, a friendlier outlook in Pak-Afghan relations have taught politicians that the status quo is highly fragile and easy to face alterations.

The Pakistani military's recent demands on the United States to curb drone strikes and reduce the number of US spies operating in Pakistan, which have raised tensions between the two countries to a new high, clearly demonstrated the increasingly edgy relations between the two allies. It was said that the military leadership had reached private agreements in the past on both the drone strikes and on US intelligence activities in Pakistan.

Analysts say that the detention of US contract spy Raymond Davis for killing three Pakistani citizens in January was a turning point in US-Pakistani relations. But it was only the occasion for the Pakistani military leadership and its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to take a much stronger position on larger issues that concerned them. In a recent occurrence, the US military's top officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, accused Pakistan's spy agency of having links with militants targeting troops in Afghanistan. He said Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had a "long-standing relationship" with a militant group run by Afghan insurgent Jalaluddin Haqqani. The comments came as he held talks in Islamabad on Wednesday, at the same time as Pakistani officials were in the US for talks.

Analysts maintain that the US officials have in the past spoken anonymously or in circumspect terms about associations between the Pakistani establishment and insurgents. But that with this blunt statement Mr. Mullen has for the first time claimed a clear link between the two. In the bluntest speech by a US top official, Mr. Mullen told Pakistan's Dawn newspaper, "It's fairly well known that the ISI has a long-standing relationship with the Haqqani network".

However, afraid of the possible damage of cooperation between the two countries' intelligence agencies and the diplomatic ties, Mullen said U.S. and Pakistani leaders agree they cannot afford to let security ties unravel, even as he acknowledged persistent strains. A critical cause for recent growing tensions between the two allies is the US's continued drone strikes on the militant strongholds in Pakistani tribal belt. Pakistan says the US air strikes further enhance militancy in the region. In the meanwhile, Pakistan halted NATO supply shipments to Afghanistan on Saturday after thousands of protesters rallied on the main road to the border to demand Washington stop firing missiles against militants sheltering inside the country.