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US, Pak prepare for separation

With the United States facing the reality that its broad security partnership with Pakistan is over, US officials are seeking to salvage a more limited counterterrorism alliance that they acknowledge will complicate their ability to launch attacks against extremists and move supplies into Afghanistan.

world Updated: Dec 27, 2011 00:50 IST

With the United States facing the reality that its broad security partnership with Pakistan is over, US officials are seeking to salvage a more limited counterterrorism alliance that they acknowledge will complicate their ability to launch attacks against extremists and move supplies into Afghanistan.

The US will be forced to restrict drone strikes, limit the number of its spies and soldiers on the ground and spend more to transport supplies through Pakistan to allied troops in Afghanistan, American and Pakistani officials said. US aid to Pakistan will also be reduced sharply, they said.

“We’ve closed the chapter on the post-9/11 period,” said a senior US official, who requested anonymity to avoid antagonising Pakistani officials. “Pakistan has told us very clearly that they are re-evaluating the entire relationship.”

US officials say that the relationship will endure in some form, but that the contours will not be clear until Pakistan completes its wide-ranging review in the coming weeks.

The Obama administration got a taste of the new terms immediately after an American airstrike killed 26 Pakistani soldiers near the Afghan border last month. Pakistan closed the supply routes into Afghanistan, boycotted a conference in Germany on the future of Afghanistan and forced the US to shut its drone operations at a base in southwestern Pakistan.

Mushahid Hussain Sayed, the secretary general of the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, an opposition political party, summed up the anger that he said many harboured: “We feel like the US treats Pakistan like a rainy-day girlfriend.”

With US diplomats essentially waiting quietly and Central Intelligence Agency drone strikes on hold since Nov 16 - the longest pause since 2008 - Pakistan’s government is drawing up what Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani called “red lines” for a new relationship that protects his country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. NYT