- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 16, 2010

PAKISTAN’S PERSPECTIVE

A former Pakistani ambassador to the United States, one who remains widely respected in Washington, bemoaned the “roller-coaster relationship” between the two countries, as Pakistan repeatedly seesaws from being the “most allied of allies to the most sanctioned” one.

Right now, the United States needs Pakistan in the war on terrorism, especially in the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan, Maleeha Lodhi told a group of prominent Washington women earlier this week.

“Never have two countries needed each other more. The United States needs Pakistan to defeat terrorism and stabilize Afghanistan,” Ms. Lodhi said, adding that Pakistan needs the United States for military aid and trade.

“But mutual aid does not always lead to mutual trust,” she added. “The public and legislatures [in each country] often view the other with deep suspicions.”

Ms. Lodhi said the “ups and downs in the relationship” have occurred under Democratic and Republican administrations alike in the United States and through civilian and military governments in Pakistan.

Her country has seen periods of “deep engagement and deep estrangement” with the United States, as both countries adopt “clashing narratives of what went wrong from time to time,” she said.

“Pakistanis feel they have been betrayed, and Washington feels Pakistan has not lived up to its commitments,” she said.

The United States has imposed sanctions on Pakistan after military coups and over its nuclear-weapons program. Washington has, at other times, lifted some sanctions. Since the 2001 terrorist attacks and Pakistan’s subsequent cooperation in the global war on terrorism, Washington has sent more than $18 billion in military and economic aid to the South Asian nation.

Ms. Lodhi said the war against terrorism has cost more than 3,000 Pakistani lives since 2001. Pakistan also still shelters 2 million refugees from the violence in Afghanistan.

“We have been a combat zone for nine years,” she said, adding that “every two weeks, we are asked to do more.”

The current Pakistan ambassador, Husain Haqqani, says his country needs an additional $2.5 billion in military aid for items such as advanced combat helicopters. Mr. Haqqani complained to The Washington Times’ national security reporter Eli Lake that his government has received only eight “secondhand” transport helicopters to fight a terrorism war that requires helicopter gunships in the period since he was named ambassador.

In her remarks at the Mount Vernon waterfront mansion of prominent Pakistani-American businessman Rafat Mahmood and his wife, Shaista, Ms. Lodhi added that Pakistanis have renewed hope for better relations under President Obama, whom she called the “first American president who understands the Muslim” world.

Ms. Lodhi, a former journalist, was ambassador in Washington from 1994 to 1997 under the civilian government of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and from 1999 to 2002 under the military government of Gen. Pervez Musharraf. She also served as Pakistan’s ambassador to Britain from 2003 to 2008. Most recently she has been a public-policy specialist at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Ms. Lodhi is returning to Pakistan next week.

Guests at the female power luncheon included Sally Oren, wife of Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren; Fugen Tan, wife of Turkish Ambassador Namik Tan; Suzy Shoukry, wife of Egyptian Ambassador Sameh Shoukry; Janis Berman, wife of Rep. Howard L. Berman, California Democrat and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Frankie Roberts, wife of Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican; Mary Jo Myers, wife of retired Gen. Richard B. Myers, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Janet Howard, vice president for international relations of the Coca-Cola Co.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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