Since the Pakistani government closed the border with Afghanistan in late November in retaliation for US attacks on Pakistani military bases, the constant US refrain have been that Pakistan would back down “soon,” and that the crisis would resolve itself.
Nearly six months in, however, the Obama Administration seems to have wised up to the fact that killing 24 Pakistani soldiers was no small matter, and now it concedes that it doesn’t expect the Pakistani government to reopen the route any time soon.
Pakistan has confirmed talks with the US on the matter, but the sticking point is that Pakistan’s parliament has drawn a line in the sand, saying that reopening the border must be predicated on the US promising to end its drone strikes on Pakistani territory. The US has ruled this out, and so the border remains closed.
The assumption that Pakistan would inevitably blink first in this stand off ignored an important factor, that between drone strikes, military attacks and the Raymond Davis fiasco last year, the US is politically radioactive in Pakistan, and with elections coming soon, even its usual allies in the ruling party don’t feel comfortable letting the US walk all over them. Since US policy toward Pakistan has for years centered on the assumption that the US can safely do as it wishes, the situation is going to require a massive rethink for officials.
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