Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s Visit to America

Why he is going there?
What he is going to get there?

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani is going to the US
to seek political support. During this visit, the US Administration is going to
deliver some key policy messages to him.

America’s main concern is inability of Pakistan’s government
to curtail terrorist activities in the border areas with Afghanistan and
Taliban’s use of tribal areas as safe heaven.

While Pervez Musharaf’s policies were very clear on this
issue, the new government has not been able to devise a coherent policy to deal
with this issue. Americans are going to tell Mr. Gilani about their
dissatisfaction in stern words. In fact, they have already told Pakistan on
many occasions.

Pakistani diplomatic sources are saying that Americans have
told them that Pervez Musharraf issue will not be discussed. Pakistanis are giving
the impression, as if America is going to unload Musharraf. I believe these types
of statements are for local consumption. My interpretation is that America is
fed up with Sharif and Zardari’s anti-Musharraf politics. America is going to
tell Zardari and Sharif that America means business.

Pakistan government has been lobbying for some time to
persuade Washington to drop its support for Musharraf. Mr. Hussain Haqani has
been instrumental in these efforts since his only credentials for being
Pakistan’s Ambassador in the US are that he is staunch anti-Musharraf.

America was instrumental in drafting the NRO (National
Reconciliation Ordinance 2007) and bringing Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif
back into the mainstream politics. Probably America was thinking that way Pakistan
would have a government that will be more credible and stable. Unfortunately, it
did not turn out that way and Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif have become now a
liability. Both had their own personal agendas so there was no national consensus
on the real issues facing Pakistan, hence no effective government and no
stability. In fact, Pakistan has become more unstable then it was before the
election.

To make its previous decision work America is going to
throw its full weight behind the present government. That would be the carrot
but at a price. Top US military, intelligence and government leaders in Bush
Administration have already shown their annoyance and dissatisfaction on the
failure of Pakistan to deal with Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters in FATA and
border areas with Afghanistan. Present government has been doing a lot of propaganda
on their peace talks with Taliban and tribal leaders in FATA area giving the
impression that these efforts are becoming successful. America wants some decisive
action, and favors military force. America will give some political space and time
may be six months to a year to this new government to be effective, try his
peace talk option and show some results. Bush is under pressure at home to show
some success in fighting terrorism in Afghanistan. American military leaders
have convinced Bush Administration that Pakistan is not doing enough to stop
Taliban and Al Qaeda’s fighters attacking from Pakistani areas. Hence, pressure
on Mr. Gilani.

To show their support, America is going to offer besides political support economic and
military aid during Prime Minister’s visit.

America is not interested in the domestic affairs of Pakistan like reinstatement of judges which is life and death issue for Nawaz Sharif and to some extent Asif Zardari, but would like to see a government who have control over the domestic problems including economy, domestic terrorism and other political issues.