While making formal announcement of Hillary Clinton's successor-in-office, President Barack Obama said: "John Kerry fully knows public and secret facts related to U.S.-Pakistan relations."
Kerry had been frequent visitor of this region at times when his country was at loggerhead with its front-line ally in the war on terror. His name also hit the world headlines when he joined hands with Senator Lugar to enact an aid bill with pressing conditionality for Pakistan.
The legislation invited strong protest from the military and public quarters in Pakistan which led to its amendment later on. Ironically,. Hussein Haqqani was Islamabad's envoy when the Kerry-Lugar bill was introduced. Aside from the fact he was Pakistan's envoy at Washington, he reportedly unleashed an unprecedented negative reaction to tarnish the image of Islamabad in American circles. Haqqani, coupled with former military dictator, [retired] general Pervez Musharraf and head of a Karachi-centric political party, Altaf Husain, and are now on self-proclaimed exile to avoid facing cases pending against them in Pakistani courts.
It is not an astonishing fact for Pakistan that John Kerry is privy to various secret deals which paved way for the return of former slain premier Benazir Bhutto to Pakistan in 2007. He knows much about the assassination of Bhutto and subsequent rise of her widower, Asif Ali Zardari, now sitting president of Pakistan. Kerry is, therefore, in a much better position to exert pressure on Islamabad, if he wishes so.
Knowing John Kerry’s potential, President Obama acknowledged his nomination saying: "John Kerry knows that the judicious use of U.S. might is our responsibility." The note speaks of Obama's fear that Washington will continue to dare an uncertain situation in the world. However, the U.S. president was confident that his new secretary of state will successfully drive the country out from potential crisis using his prudence and planning because he enjoys trust of world leaders and does not require any training for his new position.
Ultimately, John Kerry's appointment as U.S. secretary of state is a well-thought-out decision from the White House because of his knowledge about undercover long-term and short-term plans of American's secret agencies and also the ultimate U.S. ambitions. He is a staunch supporter and shrewd practitioner of a 'carrot and stick' policy, a corner stone of U.S. foreign policy vis-à-vis its dealing with the third world countries.
At this moment, Islamabad may be least concerned about Washington's relations with other capitals but they cannot remain oblivious about emerging situation across their western border, where the U.S. and its allies are their planning withdrawal from war-torn Afghanistan. Pakistan cannot afford to remain a silent spectator this time because of bitter memories of U.S. withdrawal after the fall of the USSR.
In the backdrop of a recently concluded meeting of Taliban groups, Afghan factions and Afghan officials at an undisclosed location in Paris Pakistan's concern regarding developments inside Afghanistan should be of paramount importance in circle of the power that be.
Devoid of any official endorsement, Paris parleys underscored the need for ceasefire leading to urgent peace in Afghanistan. Participants were unanimous on the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan but the pace of pull out was hit by divergent views at the meeting.
Afghan diplomats and Pakistani officials in Islamabad are not much hopeful about the outcome of Paris talks but Taliban's participation in the parley, through their representative office in Doha, is construed a first step towards a big political movement in the days ahead.
No one can deny the importance of Islamabad role vis-à-vis future of Taliban's political movement. Afghan diplomatic circles have called for comprehensive talk on the common issues with Pakistan. They believe that contentious matters could be put on back burner till conducive environment sees the light of day.
To set the ball rolling, release of Taliban leaders by Pakistan during the past couple of days was also a significant confidence building measure. Diplomatic sources believe that there are about one hundred Taliban captives in Pakistani jails. Their release could be used diligently to seek Taliban's support, or crudely speaking, to brindle them.
In this changing scenario narrative of Haqqani network is dying down. Perhaps they [Haqqani network] are also waiting for the outcome of Afghan government official's meeting with Taliban leadership in Paris. Surprisingly, neither Pakistan nor Afghan officials are demanding military action against Haqqani network after the launch of thriving culture of parleys.
The situation warrants that Islamabad should keep their eyes open and remain fully alive to meet the confronted challenge. If Kabul government can initiate dialogue with their brand of outlaw Taliban, then what bars Pakistan to sit on negotiation table with their chapter of Taliban to effect peace in the country.
Previously, this call was discouraged by Islamabad under U.S. pressure. After the Paris parley and the change of face in the U.S. foreign office, it looks like a persuasive idea to think out of the box this time!
(Mansoor Jafar is Editor of Al Arabiya Urdu based at Islamabad. He can be reached through email: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter: @mansoorjafar)