Pakistan’s New U.S. Envoy Faces Tough Task Ahead

As Reported by Xinhuanet

A journalist-turned politician, Ms. Sherry Rehman, will soon proceed to Washington to assume responsibility as Pakistan’s new ambassador where she would face tough task as how to bridge the trust gap with the United States.

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani appointed Sherry Rehman as Pakistan’s new ambassador in Washington a day after her predecessor Hussain Haqqani resigned over a recent claim by a Pakistani-American business tycoon that he had been asked by Haqqani to deliver the alleged President Asif Ali Zardari’s memo to the former U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, seeking Washington’s help to rein in the powerful army.

Haqqani, who was summoned to Pakistan this week after the memo controversy dragged the country into crisis, was asked by the Prime Minister to quit during a meeting attended by the President, the Army Chief General Ashaq Pervaiz Kayani and Intelligence Chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha in Islamabad on Tuesday.

Sherry Rehman, a former Information Minister and current member of the National Assembly or Lower House of the parliament, is also a central leader of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party. She was chosen for the key post only because of her association with the ruling party as she has no diplomatic career. Islamabad routinely appoints ambassadors to the United States on a political basis. Several retired military men have also served as the country’s ambassadors to the U.S..

The Pakistani government has designated a political loyalist and the woman ambassador to the U.S at a time when mistrust between the two key allies in the so-called war on terror is at peak. Pakistan and the U.S. cooperation is considered a key to stability in Afghanistan as Washington is mounting pressure on Islamabad to take measures in “days and weeks” to encourage the Taliban, the dreaded Haqqani network and other Afghan armed groups to join the peace and reconciliation process in the war-ravaged Afghanistan.

“It’s like that old story – you can’t keep snakes in your backyard and expect them only to bite your neighbors. Eventually those snakes are going to turn on whoever has them in the backyard, ” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said while standing along with her Pakistani counterpart in Islamabad last month in a blunt message to Pakistan.

The first major challenge the Pakistan new ambassador will have to face is how to address to the U.S. concern about the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network, which the U.S. officials say are operating from Pakistan’s tribal region. Washington seemed to be in haste on the Afghan peace process in view of its troops’ withdrawal, which already began in July and will be completed by 2014.

The Pakistani Taliban is also an issue for the U.S. as the CIA says that they are sheltering Afghan armed militants in the country’s lawless tribal regions bordering Afghanistan. In view of its frustration, the U.S. routinely uses its spy aircraft to hit targets in Pakistan tribal regions, which is also a source of tension in bilateral relationship and the U.S. is in no mood to stop drone strikes despite Pakistan’s criticism.

The new Pakistani ambassador will also have to convince the U.S. administration to unblock the suspended military aid to Pakistan. The U.S. withheld some 800 million US dollars in assistance to the country’s armed forces in July just two months after Osama bin Laden was killed in a U.S. military raid, the U.S. unilateral action had itself worsened relationship. The U.S. has also attached tough conditions with the civilian aid for Pakistan.

Pakistan is nowadays under fire during the Presidential nomination campaign in the U.S. and even on Tuesday Republican presidential candidates attacked Pakistan in their foreign policy debate. The Republican presidential hopefuls ganged up on Pakistan and questioned whether the United States could trust it. Texas Governor Rick Perry called Pakistan unworthy of U.S. aid because it had not done enough to help fight al-Qaida.

Criticism at Pakistan by the Republican hopefuls shows how much tough environment she would face after she assumes the office of ambassador in the coming days. She vowed on Wednesday, a day when she was designated as ambassador, to work for improvement of ties with the U.S..

The United States on Wednesday acknowledged the impending change of guard at the Pakistani embassy in Washington as they praised deposed Ambassador Husain Haqqani for his services and announced their anticipation of working with Pakistan’s new Ambassador Sherry Rehman to continue strengthening bilateral ties between the two countries. In Washington too, the State Department spokesman on Wednesday said the U.S. looks forward to working together with her as both countries “continue to build a strong, cooperative relationship between our two countries.”

The former Pakistani ambassador to the U.S. had also good ties with the U.S. administration and his role was praised by the State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, but even then the relationship had been worst during his tenure. Now Sherry Rehman will not only have to address to the U.S. concern but also to serve the interests of Pakistan where a majority of the people are against the U.S. policies.

  1. So Ms Gilani, oof sorry Ms Shery Rahman is back on the forfront. I think the playboy PM Yusuf Gilani might have been waiting for an opportunity for her more than her herself. I am sure she will make it and Yusuf Mian will have more pretext to visit US. Sorry mised out Zardari Saheb. Have a look at this link:

    MM don’t become greedy, she belongs to someone else. Just type Sherry Rahman scandal in Google and enjoy your hearts’ full. God bless

    • Ardillaun
    • November 27th, 2011

    I’m delighted for her and the country. Americans will see that Pakistanis can be both literate and sane. She’s a brave voice for secularism and will be a lot safer in the US than at home. I hope she appears on Fareed Zakaria and asks him and India to lay off the constant pressure on Pakistan. It’s a fragile, paranoid country and needs Indian help more than ever – not threats of war.

    • @Ardillaun,

      You seem to be full of adrenaline and so is the Pakistan. Mere writting for the sake of writting and blame game doesn’t solve problems. India and Pakistan had several wars. Have you any clue, “Who was the aggressor”? Read history before comming here to make idiotic comments.

      Learn to behave and stop your craps. This blog is not meant for Islamists or militants to indulge, this is my impression. If you continue here, come with a sensible suggestion or else stay away. Pakistan has brought disgrace to itself and the Muslims at large. I feel sad when I observe it. Don’t read what your Madarsas or LeT gangs teach you. Read sensible history.

        • Ardillaun
        • February 4th, 2012

        The game of who started it can be played with any war but I think it is fair to expect the stronger side to show more restraint.

        BTW I am not Pakistani and the madrasas would be of little help to an atheist like myself.

        My suggestion is simple – give peace a chance.

        • Agreed 110%. Give Peace a Chance. There is no good war and there is no bad peace~

  2. I have just recd this in my inbox:

    Bahrain commission report: Expats subjected to ‘physical, psychological torture’

    Bahrain military has a lot of ex-Pak military personnel in their forces. It is a heart rendering tale of inhumanity. India is not involved in anyway. Who will you blame here? If I am forgiven to point out, I think it is a sole brutality of Sunni on Sunnis. Though the conflict is between majority Shiias fighting the minority Sunni ruler who is ruling tyrantly by force and barbarism. Pakistanis are their best confidates as Sunni brothers to tackle these Shiias. Islam pitted against Islam, sorry but it is the truth.

    ” I hope she appears on Fareed Zakaria and asks him and India to lay off the constant pressure on Pakistan. It’s a fragile, paranoid country and needs Indian help more than ever – not threats of war.”

    You don’t have to put words in their mouth, Fareed Zakaria is employed there only for this purpose. If he will give up his this ideology, he will be of his job. Many more will like to…??? It is a sordid state of affairs. While i agree that Pakistan is a paranoid country due to fanatic Islamism made fragile thereby. Yet you quickly come and blame India for all your ills. A good samaritan but would you also tell us the hate teachings in your madarsas and mosques directly against Hindus to your children. Hafiz Saeed is openly supported by ISI and given all support of all kinds to organise his Islamist rallies and spew venom on the grounds in Lahore, Islamabad, Muridke, Pakistan occupied Kashmir with impunity. We are well aware of it yet you chaps raise a hell on trivial issues as a policy. I would think that you will be better advised to look after your own glass house before pelting stones on neighbour’s house. God bless

      • Ardillaun
      • February 4th, 2012

      I admire Zakaria and GPS yet I can’t help noticing his bias against Pakistan. These are not my my mosques or madrasas he’s talking about – I may be ignorant of what is really going on but I have no particular reason to take Pakistan’s side, being an Irish atheist in Canada. I am fully aware of the madness and fanaticism within Pakistan which is why I feel we all should give the few secular voices a chance to survive in that country. Can you see NO good in this South Asian country right next to yours with whom you share a common cultural heritage?

      • Thank you for your comments bgalla. Dr Osudrania is a long time regular of this blog. Being an Indian American intellectual in the medical profession, he is very anti-Pakistani indeed. In fact, as the author and admin of this site, I take everything with a grain of salt that he says. To be honest, some of the times he makes good points from a totally objective position, as someone who is intimate of Pakistan’s troubles but does not have a personal stake, many other times he will make biased points as an Indian against Pakistan and the criticism may border on hostility, but due to his mostly professional and not overtly rude comments, they are tolerated as a dialogue is primarily what this site is about and not confrontation and hate. If one searches for original articles written on this site by Manzer Munir, the founder of Pakistanis for Peace, they will realize that these are articles on the similarity between the Indian and Pakistani cultures/nations, who are indeed brothers, or that this Pakistani American wants Pakistan to appreciate Gandhi’s contributions to a free Pakistan that often does not get its due or that MLK and Gandhi are two of his biggest heroes. Nonetheless, I appreciate his patronage and his comments as well as yours and for visiting this site. Please come back soon!

          • Ardillaun
          • February 4th, 2012

          As I said, my own connection with these issues is very peripheral. Apart from my wife being Hindu, I have many Pakistani colleagues – they are great guys but some of them have bizarrely paranoid political views of evil Americans controlling everything that happens in the world.

  3. MM, Let me clear some of the dust after your last comment. Please don’t try to portray me something like anti-Pakistan. In fact look back 63 years ago to visualise the history. One cannot ignore the fact of terror activities that are even tearing Pakistan itself. Who could you hold responsible for all these acts?
    If you think I am anti Pakistan, “Who is stoping Pakistan to look after its economic, educational, civil administration, basic infrastructural facility developments”? Instead every news that comes out from Pakistan is killings, rapes, kidnappings, murders like Nawab Akbar Bugti of Kalat, incessant double game in Afghanistan with NATO/US allies etc do not instil confidence in the international community.

    You had seen 26/11 and could one overlook that case by excluding Pakistan? It is a different matter that India cannot act like US to retaliate and I tell you the result of your trial in Pakistan against the perpetrators of that crime, “If Pakistan plays smart or too judicious, there will be a civil war there”? Hafiz Saeed is too powerful to touch him for the present rulers there.

    Now targeting me as anti Pakistan may be easy armchair strategy but it will not solve our real issue of giving the peace a chance. It will become that story of a smoker who said, “Easy to stop smoking; I have done it hundred times”! I already promised you in the very begining that if you are sincerely interested in Peace, I am with you. But mere discussion without discussing the ground realities will be like describing a sea without ever having seen a sea at all.

    You have tried to project MK Gandhi equal to ML King Jr. I have already expressed my views about him earlier in no ambiguous terms. Again if you read the history of partition, MK Gandhi had said that partition of India will only take place at my dead body! The partition did take place, not on him dead body. He also said to Lord Mountbatten to make Mr Jinnah the Prime Minister of undivided India. Why did it not happen? Mind you again, don’t forget that the Muslim population even in that India was only about 20% or so at the nation level. Please correct me if I am wrong. But this is certain that Muslims were in a noticeable minority.

    Jinnah Saheb lost patience and gave a call for direct action in August 1946 in Calcutta (now Kolkata) and about 5,000 odd Hindus or Muslims were killed on the streets in a couple of days. Yet the Jinnah Saheb did not acquiesce and the partition became a reality. Nehru cannot be exonerated in it but MK Gandhi cannot be absolved of his vicarious liability. We call him an Apostle of Truth, don’t we? Was he truthful to his words on Partition? Either he should have died before partition or he lacks a (dis)honoured prefix of Mahatma and an apostle of peace.

    I shall not like to indulge in certain petty allegations of his sexual life or indulgences. There are a lot of rumours right or wrong on internet, that may be another issue for the political and ethical historians to discuss. Only last night I saw some big news on a blog, “Rupee News” about it. I don’t go by them more than just take a note of. Thus please don’t put labels on someone simply because s/he puts some other side of the picture. Then the essence of debate will be lost. What I expect is a sane language and avoid personal slanders to continue a debate but that debate becomes meaningless if the acts in practice are contrary to the relevance of debate.

    Ardillan talks of cultural heritage, I don’t want again to be possessive on this issue again, you need two hands to clap! Both have to be willing partners. I often suggest the same but quite often, rather more than often, when the actions don’t match the results, where do you go? Let me tell you, my best freinds are Muslims and we often discuss it together. More sometime later. God bless

  4. MM,

    I give you a suggestion to build on what Dr Farooq Abdullah recently sain in Delhi when the grandson of your Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan of NWFP was also there in a press meet on India and Pakistan, “Make both countries one”. He thought it the only solution! I liked his answer the best of the lot. Are you prepared to buy it? Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan is my one of the most favourite personalities who died, true to his words, but did not lift a weapon against the atrocities committed against his Red Shirt brigade. To me, this apostle of peace holds greater respect than MK GAndhi. Just because Khan Saheb did not get the world attention, we should not dismiss his roll character. I don’t know, if you will agree or not?

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