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"Viceroy" Holbrooke furious with Pakistani parliamentarians on US drone attacks

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The US special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, met in Lahore last Friday with a number of Pakistani parliamentarians as US drone missiles were attacking targets in North Waziristan killing at least 11 people. It was the ninth drone attack so far this year to be carried out by the US drones.

Holbrooke was furious when parliamentarians demanded that the drone attacks should be stopped as they were causing massive civilian casualties and creating bad image for the United States.

Holbrooke was once nicknamed "the Bulldozer" for his role in the 1995 Dayton peace accords that ended three years of war in Bosnia. Holbrooke has long served as one of the most ruthless American diplomat and perhaps he is testing his skills in his role as US envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Not surprisingly he is called "American Viceroy of Pakistan" by many media outlets in Pakistan.

His furious response to the criticism of US policy was that Pakistanis are ungrateful people.

Holbrooke said the US was making sincere efforts for the wellbeing of the underprivileged people of Pakistan which are not being admitted by the Pakistanis. He was alluding to the 7.5 billion dollars US pledged to Pakistan in the next five years.

The US aid is attached by humiliating conditions imposed unilaterally on the country despite protests even by the Pakistani Parliament. Also, there is a general perception in Pakistan that 80% of any US aid goes back to US in the form of expert advice etc and the rest 20% lands in the pockets of government's functionaries. There are now popular demands by media and politicians that the US-installed Zardari government should reject the US aid package attached with capitulating terms.

Holbrooke's visit to Pakistan came at a time when relations between Washington and Islamabad are witnessing signs of strains on the activities of US diplomats and US contractors.

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In recent months, Pakistani police have arrested some American nationals, most of them equipped with arms, in Peshawar, Islamabad, Lahore and other Pakistani cities. U.S. diplomats, embassy staffers, and even 'private security contractors' are claiming "diplomatic immunity" whenever they're stopped by police investigating suspicious activities.

These encounters occur regularly and involve Americans driving vehicles with false license plates in "sensitive areas" - areas where ordinary diplomats would appear to have no legitimate business.

On January 6, two Pakistani employees of the US Consulate in Karachi were arrested in Gwadar, close to the Iranian border, while travelling in a vehicle with fake number plate. They were released after intervention of US consulate. What they were doing in that sensitive area? US embassy said the two officials were visiting the area in preparation for a development project.

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In another suspicious activity, law enforcement agencies arrested last month two U.S. diplomats for filming sensitive locations in Lahore Cantt, but released them a few hours later on the intervention of the U.S. embassy officials. Police said two U.S. diplomats, riding a grey SUV having tinted glasses, were video filming sensitive locations in the Cantt area.

In a rare public protest that illustrated the tensions between the allies as America expands its presence in Pakistan, the U.S. Embassy has complained that its staff members are being harassed and detained as they travel around Pakistan.

U.S. officials say they need more room and people to help disburse a $7.5 billion aid package to Pakistan in the next five years. The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad has plans to go from about 500 American employees to more than 800 over the next 18 months.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
 

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