Foreign Policy Blogs

Islamabad Pulls out of U.S. Af/Pak Trilateral Meeting, Citing Recent Deadly Drone Attack

The somewhat plodding resolution of the Raymond Davis affair last week was good news.  Strategic and coordinative relations between the U.S and Pakistan were on the mend.  But the recent drone attack that killed nearly 40 people has cut short that much needed  re-engagement and amity.   Relations have deteriorated so much so that Islamabad just pulled out a trilateral, U.S., Pakistan and Afghanistan meeting scheduled for next week.

Foreign Minister Salman Bashir summoned U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter to the Foreign Office and personally passed on the government’s decision to him.  Ambassador Munter promised to travel back to Washington D.C. to relay the message to the Obama administration.

The move to back out of the trilateral talks might have been designed to stand for the widely declamatory outcry on the street, a demand for the U.S to leave Pakistan, a raging outburst against the immensely unpopular drone attacks in the tribal regions, a shout here for Davis’ execution, there on another street corner, a paen, “death to America”.  Certainly the recent drone attacks that killed a number of elderly tribal leaders in North Waziristan has struck Pakistanis as just more of the same  callousness, carelessness that they have come to expect from U.S military moves.

Those earlier moves, the ones that widely embarrassed the intelligence agencies in the U.S and Pakistan were strategic and covert and were designed by the CIA to draw out its Pakistani counterpart ISI’s reared wildcard, Lashkar-e-Taiba. Raymond A. Davis, the CIA contractor was charged with the job to gather intelligence on Lashkar.  His subsequent arrest came right on the heels of suspicious arrangements during which he was in possession of suspicious accoutrements.  Davis’ release came after weeks of protests and delays that finally led to legal circumstances straight out of some cheap, though titillating spy novel.

Raymond A. Davis’ release was thought to clear about a rather thorny mess that many had thought might take down the ruling PPP government. Instead of reawakening comity, the recent bombings have given Islamabad the strategic and perhaps moral upper hand.  Though there is some dispute about the exact number of casualties, no one doubts that the largest number of victims were in fact elderly men.  That’s sure to be a soft spot for many out there taking care to look into Pakistan’s politics.

What seems rather more immediately at issue is whether those dead men were all insurgents.  The U.S government insists that the dead men were insurgents. The Pakistani government says otherwise, right along with other villagers who were not part of the tribal meeting which occasioned the attack.  There’s little doubt that world opinion will side with the North Waziristani villages and the government in Islamabad.

And again, through willed action and unwilled consequences of those actions, the U.S is bleeding support in the streets of Pakistan.



Faheem Haider

Faheem Haider is a political analyst, writer and artist. He holds advanced research degrees in political economy, political theory and the political economy of development from the London School of Economics and Political Science and New York University. He also studied political psychology at Columbia University. During long stints away from his beloved Washington Square Park, he studied peace and conflict resolution and French history and European politics at the American University in Washington DC and the University of Paris, respectively.

Faheem has research expertise in democratic theory and the political economy of democracy in South Asia. In whatever time he has to spare, Faheem paints, writes, and edits his own blog on the photographic image and its relationship to the political narrative of fascist, liberal and progressivist art.

That work and associated writing can be found at the following link:

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