The U.S.-Pakistan relationship is fraught in the best of times, but we may be approaching a new low. Pakistani politicians of all stripes have united in denouncing the $10 million dollar U.S. bounty on Hafiz Saeed, the man behind the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai, who is currently living openly in Pakistan. Pakistan’s refusal to cooperate in turning over Saeed is the latest sign that the already chilly U.S.-Pakistan relationship is beginning to freeze over.
“Today, Hafiz Saeed has been targeted. Tomorrow, any other ordinary Pakistani citizen can get the same treatment,” said Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the leader of the opposition in the national assembly.
Pakistan’s courts have consistently failed to prosecute Mr. Saeed, an imposing bearded man who commands one of South Asia’s most disciplined militant outfits, despite numerous accusations of orchestrating violence. In recent months he has emerged at the vanguard of a stridently anti-American lobby coalition.
America has had a bad 12 months in Pakistan. Between last May’s raid of Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound and the U.S. airstrikes in November that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, America has looked to many Pakistanis like an increasingly unreliable ally whose interests don’t line up with their own, particularly when it comes to India and Afghanistan. This latest incident with Saeed has only reinforced this view.
The U.S.-Pakistan relationship is coming apart at the seams. We can expect it to unravel further as America slowly pulls out of the region.