The feeling of humiliation that hit the Pakistani army after the U.S. killed Osama bin Laden without informing the Pakistani government, combined with resentment over American operatives active in the country, created an outburst of discontent that seemed to endanger the survival itself of the Pakistani army's leadership.
The New York Times reported that Pakistan's army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, is "fighting to save his position in the face of seething anger from top generals and junior officers since the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden." According to the newspaper, Kayani "faces such intense discontent over what is seen as his cozy relationship with the U.S. that a colonels' coup, while unlikely, was not out of the question."
If this is the case, Kayani would be replaced with a more uncompromising anti-American army chief, endangering even more Pak-U.S. relations and the cooperation in the war on terror. While Pakistani media reports that any such coup may be unlikely, it is true that Pak-U.S. ties are at their lowest in years, and the Pakistani army feels uneasy in the alliance with Washington.
Polls: Washington is the enemy
Recent polls have shown that the majority of Pakistanis consider the U.S. an enemy. In a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, "Pakistanis took a more pessimistic view of relations between their country and the United States." About 7 in 10 said they considered the U.S. more an enemy of Pakistan than a partner, whereas more than two-thirds said they were worried that Washington could become a military threat.
The Sri Lanka Guardian said that the anti-U.S. anger is not a new phenomenon in Pakistan. The only new thing, after the killing of bin Laden, is that this anger is now accompanied by feelings of humiliation in the public, as well as in the barracks "over the perceived disregard by the U.S. of Pakistani sensitivities relating to the repeated violations of its sovereignty."
The majority of Pakistanis might have sour feelings over the fact their government was not informed about the May 2 Abbottabad operation that killed bin Laden, but news items indicate that for the U.S., sharing information with Pakistan could be counterproductive.
The Indian daily, Hindustan Times, reported that U.S. officials claimed Pakistan tipped off militants at building sites in the tribal areas, allowing the terrorists to flee after Washington shared intelligence with the Pakistani government.
"In the tradition of trust but verify, the Americans carefully monitored the area with satellite and unmanned drones after sharing the information," the Hindustan Times wrote. "In each case, they watched the militants depart within 24 hours, taking any weapons or bomb-making materials with them, just as militants had done the first two times. Only then did they see the Pakistani military visit each site, when the terror suspects and their wares were long gone."
Pak-China relations scares Asian countries
The present stand-off between Pakistan and the U.S. is putting their relations at risk. Pakistan, with a stagnating economy, is trying to move away from the U.S. to play the Chinese card. China has been a constant presence in Pakistan; thousands of Chinese troops are already operating in the region of Gilgit-Baltistan, supposedly helping Pakistan with new infrastructure projects.
China and Pakistan, after the recent visit to Beijing of Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, are becoming increasingly closer, including in defense affairs. Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao actually promised that China would be an "all-weather strategic partner" for Pakistan.
In the meantime, Asian countries are starting to worry about the development of Pak-China relations, as China is recently increasing military spending.
The Japan Times wrote that "China also effectively masterminded Pakistan's acquisition of nuclear weapons by giving it 50 kilograms of weapons-grade enriched uranium, tons of uranium hexafluoride for centrifuges and detailed plans of nuclear weapons. The security of those weapons must now be in question after Taliban terrorists last month successfully attacked a Pakistan naval air base in Karachi, claiming revenge for the killing of bin Laden."
Pakistani 'nuclearized' theocracy
In an appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations committee, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking of dealing with Pakistan, said: "This is a long-term, frustrating, frankly sometimes, very outraging, kind of experience. And yet, I don't see any alternative, if you look at vital American national interests."
Next year, the U.S. is planning to withdraw 33,000 soldiers from Afghanistan, and Pakistan is now looking to play a bigger role in Afghanistan. Pakistan's hegemonic dreams are creating tensions inside the Obama administration on how to deal with Islamabad.
The Pakistan Observer writes that Clinton said it was time for the United States and Pakistan to ensure their interests and actions are aligned.
"In simple words, Clinton is asking Islamabad to continue supporting America in its Asia policy and become part of U.S.-Indo alliance against the region, including China. Pakistan cannot, and must not, change its China policy because it constitutes core of military, economic and national interests."
However, some Pakistani intellectuals are becoming uneasy with the present trend of the country's policy. Recently, a leading Pakistani daily, The Express Tribune, warned the Pakistani leadership against cutting ties with the U.S., noting that: "Pakistan has been able to tackle its tormentors only with America's help. Hence, a break with the U.S. might go in favor of al-Qaeda's plans to impose a 'nuclearized' theocracy on Pakistan."