American officials can’t seem to keep out of trouble in Pakistan, where anger among citizens over the U.S.’s war on terror has led to deep fissures between Washington and an important ally.
Three American diplomats and their Pakistani assistants were reportedly detained in Peshawar — a Pakistani city in the notoriously dangerous region along the Afghan border — after police found they were carrying illegal assault rifles and pistols, Dawn.com reported on Monday, June 4th.
The arrests recall an incident involving CIA agent Raymond Davis, who was arrested in January 2011 after he shot and killed two motorcyclists who were attacking him at a busy intersection in Lahore. A third Pakistani citizen died in a car accident that resulted from other American officials speeding to the scene to aid Davis.
Initially described only as a diplomat, revelations of Davis’ espionage stoked tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan, a crucial American ally in the war on terror. Davis was acquitted of murder and released in March 2011 after he paid the men’s families $2.3 million.
Other low points in U.S.-Pakistani relations include: the NATO air strike in November 2011 that resulted in the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers; the imprisonment of Pakistani physician Shakil Afridi, who helped American agents track down Al Qaeda mastermind Osama Bin Laden; ongoing drone attacks (more on that in a moment). Afridi has since appealed his May conviction of colluding with militants.
Such incidents have led to deep fissures between the U.S. and Pakistan.
The American Consul General in Pakistan, Mary Richard, urged the Pakistani police to release the three diplomats arrested on Monday, Dawn.com reported. But she declined further comment on the arrests. The website reports that Pakistan has prohibited diplomats from carrying weapons in that area of the country. Dawn.com also cites a Reuters story that said the diplomats were returning from a university event for underprivileged children.
Diplomats on the ground, drones in the sky
As Richard was fielding questions from the press, the U.S. reportedly was in the third day of an extensive campaign of drone attacks in Pakistan, killing 27 people as of Monday, the Daily Mail of London reported. Pakistan has demanded that Washington end the attacks and refused to re-open supply routes to Afghanistan.
The New America Foundation, a think-tank in Washington, said as many as 2,680 people in Pakistan have died in drone strikes in the past eight years, Dawn.com reported.
Those numbers were likely at the root of why Pakistanis on Monday demonstrated against the drone strikes. In Multan, a city in central Pakistan, rioters burned American and NATO flags and carried signs saying “America and Nato are war terrorists,” the Mail reported.
So why would Pakistan’s government work with the U.S. and NATO over the objections of its citizens?
The U.S. agreed to pay $1.18 billion to Pakistan to compensate for expenses related to the war on terror in the country. Without that cash and other forms of American aid, it’s not clear if the Pakistani government would exist, Dawn.com argues. You can click on the link below and see for yourself.