A major tiff has broken out between the Pakistani government and the US ambassador in Islamabad, Nancy Powell. Speaking at a dinner for businessmen in Karachi, she called on Pakistan fully to implement its pledge to stop cross-border infiltration of radicals accross the line of control into Indian-held Kashmir. “Pakistan must ensure its pledges are implemented to prevent infiltration across the Line of Control and end the use of Pakistan as a platform for terrorism,” she was quoted as saying.
This rather straightforward comment aroused the wrath both of the Pakistani government and that of the extremist Muslim parties. The statement implied that there were still terrorists going across into India and that the Pakistani goverment hadn’t done everything it could to stop it. The foreign ministry position is that the Musharraf government has cracked down hard on such infiltration, to the point where little any more occurs. The Jami`at Ulama-yi Pakistan condemned her for another reason, insofar as these backers of the Taliban reject the equation of the “freedom fighters” for Kashmir with terrorists.
The Pakistani government has not asked for to be reassigned, and the US intends to keep her there in Islamabad. The episode shows how America’s allies in the war on terror need to be treated with kid gloves and with diplomacy. Sometimes blunt language and honesty have the opposite effect than the one intended.