Pakistan’s Ambassador Mahmud Ali Durrani was to give an update and insight as to the current political at George Washington University’s Elliot School on Tuesday, September 18, 2007, and did for the most part, but he mainly focused on Pakistan’s discontent with the anti-Pakistan rhetoric being spouted by Washington officials including presidential hopefuls, Barack Obama and John Edwards. The US has had a long relationship with Pakistan dating back to when it was part of British India, and today Pakistan is revered as an “ally against the war on terror”. But the relationship has a love-hate cycle. In one breath, President Bush will exalt Pakistan as a true partner in combating terrorism, but in the next breath accuse Pakistan for harboring “terrorist” in rural villages, he’s even proclaimed that Bin Laden could be in Pakistan. By saying that Pakistan, the country that is, is harboring terrorist, he is implying that it is somehow sanctioned by the Pakistani government, which it is not. This was exactly one of the Ambassador’s points, and he called the US out on it publicly. In addition, he argued that Pakistanis’ dislike the US for its policies in the Middles East, most notable Israel-Palestine, and Iraq. He openly attributed many problems including spike in political unrest and violence, are due to the influx of Al-Qaeda fighters and others fleeing Iraq. It was interesting to hear his take on the situation as he looked in retrospect recommending that the US should have remained focused on Afghanistan instead of taking on Iraq at the same time. 

            Indeed it is the “only when we need you” policy that has hurt the US’s relationship with Pakistan. Pakistan could be an ally with whom the US could work more closely with, if the US were willing to change some of its policies in the Middle East and engage Pakistan on a deeper level. The US is obviously not going to make any progress with the Middle East with the insanity of the Bush administration. Hope lies in the future and the next election. Interestingly, Ambassador Durrani briefly mentioned that poverty is an important factor in recruiting young men to Al-Qaeda and other militia groups. However, poverty, unemployment, and lack of basic human rights have to be brought to the forefront as opposed to being briefly mentioned. What type of cooperation can the US and Pakistan engage in to lift people out of poverty and give them viable alternatives?

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