It was announced on Tuesday that Pakistan has moved “up” on the list of the world’s most corrupt governments. The Corruption Prescriptions Index ranks Pakistan 34 out of 178 countries, up from 42 last year. The annual report is prepared by Transparency International. It’s Pakistan Chairman Syed Adil Gilani said that the Islamabad government lacks the political will to fight corruption. This is another blow to the credibility of the country that is supposed to be America’s strategic partner, but which many fear also lacks the political will to fight terrorism.
At the U.S. -Pakistan Strategic Dialogue meeting last week, it was announced that President Barack Obama will not visit Pakistan during his November trip to Asia. He would, however, be visiting India, Pakistan’s neighbor and arch-rival. Hopefully, this choice of destinations conveys a deepening relationship between Washington and New Delhi, one that will not be held hostage to Pakistan’s wavering cooperation in the war against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and the border areas.
Islamabad’s attempts to use the “war on terror” as leverage to draw the U.S. into favoring Pakistan over India must be resisted. The counter is to use a closer alignment with India to remind Pakistan’s leaders what the consequences could be if Islamabad does not cooperate with American objectives in the region.
The delegations led by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Pakistan Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi met in Washington Oct. 20-22 for what was the third ministerial-level meeting of the Strategic Dialogue. All have been held this year, the first in Washington in March and the second in Islamabad in July.
The war against terrorism was only mentioned twice in the joint statement issued on Oct. 22: “The United States commended the steadfast resolve of the Government and people of Pakistan, armed forces, and law enforcement agencies to defeat terrorists” and “The United States and Pakistan renewed their resolve to promoting peace, stability, and transparency throughout the region and to eliminate the threats posed by terrorism and extremism. ” Afghanistan was never mentioned. “Counter-terrorism” was mentioned once, as part of a laundry list of issues which included agriculture, communications, public diplomacy, defense, energy, finance, economic cooperation, health, law enforcement, water, and women’s empowerment. One could not have concluded from reading this document that the war along the Pakistan-Afghan border was a priority issue. This is apparently Islamabad’s desire.
At their joint press conference at the end of the meeting, Secretary Clinton expressed her “deep sorrow and my outrage at the killing of Dr. Mohammad Farooq Khan by Taliban assassins on October 2nd.” Farooq was a medical doctor and Vice-Chancellor at the Islamic University in Swat. But her attempt to raise the topic of the threat that Islamic radicalism poses to Pakistan fell on deaf ears. In his remarks following hers, Foreign Minister Qureshi never mentioned the killing or anything else about terrorism. Instead, he talked about water, productivity, women’s empowerment and the need to give “legal status” to Pakistanis who are living and working in America without it.
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