A helical relationship

Many will be familiar with the form of the double helix, the elegant spiral that is made of the double-stranded molecules of nucleic acids such as DNA that are one of the fundamental building blocks of life. Pakistan and America have a relationship not unlike that — twisted and complex, vital to both and attracting and repelling simultaneously. Sometimes the spiral dance is more visible than others, and in the last 36 hours it is plain to see.

In the aftermath of the attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, the Americans are calling for Pakistan to arrest or expel any Taliban from its territory and to prevent them from using its territory to support their operations in Afghanistan. Pakistan strongly condemned the attack, and quickly responded to the American and Afghan statements alleging Pakistan complicity by saying that it rejected the ‘knee jerk allegations’ and that the people of Pakistan expressed solidarity with the people of Afghanistan at this ‘dastardly’ attack. Within hours Pakistan responded to a possible threat of sanctions by America with Prime Minister Abbasi saying that any such move would be counter-productive and may impact upon the capacity to fight what the PM termed ‘the largest war on terror in the world’ — he could well be right on that score.

The two sides twist and turn seemingly never destined to meet amicably and held apart by an eternal trust deficit. Pakistan is never going to be judged as having done enough in the eyes of America, and for its part Pakistan has embedded memories of America failing to live up to commitments that it has made. The thorn in the side of both is Hafiz Saeed. Pakistan, under considerable pressure, has reportedly agreed to ‘take over’ the charities that he is linked to but has given no timeline by which this will be accomplished. Washington has dubbed them ‘terrorist fronts’ and the UN has sanctioned both Saeed and the charities he heads. With the UN Financial Action Task Force soon to pay a visit, the double helix is going to take a tighter turn. It could be painful.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2018.

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    Original news : https://tribune.com.pk/story/1616164/6-a-helical-relationship/