Pakistan's hostage rescue hailed, but tensions with U.S. remain

From Reuters - October 13, 2017

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - The freeing of a hostage U.S.-Canadian family by Pakistans army has been hailed by officials as a positive step in mending ties between Washington and Islamabad, but those hoping fresh start in their fraught relationship seem likely to be disappointed.

Pakistan and the United States have for years been - atbest - uneasy allies in the war against the Taliban and other Islamist extremists.

U.S. President Donald Trump said the raid that rescued American Caitlan Campbell, her Canadian husband Joshua Boyleand their three young children showed that Pakistan had started to respect the United States again in response to his administrations tough-talking tactics.

But the two countries still have conflicting interests - and the Trump administrations vow to apply more diplomatic pressure on Pakistan is unlikely to work, given Islamabads growing alliance with regional heavyweight China, say analysts.

This is a small occurrence between Pakistan and the U.S., and it should not be confused with the big issues that separate Pakistan and the U.S., said Pakistani security analyst Imtiaz Gul.

On Friday, five years after they were kidnapped in Afghanistan, Campbell and Boyle flew home with the three children born while they were captives of the Haqqani network, a feared Taliban sub-group that Washington particularly accuses Pakistan of failing to do enough to fight.

Some saw the timing as a goodwill gesture ahead of upcoming visits by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

I dont think its a coincidence that this hostage release was announced when you have a parade of top Trump administration officials in Islamabad to deliver strongly worded warnings to Pakistan, said Michael Kugelman, a South Asia specialist at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

He added that no one should take the good news as a definite sign that Pakistan would drastically change its behavior toward militants such at the Haqqanis.

Going after hostages is not the same thing as going after the terrorists holding them, he said.

The United States has repeatedly accused Pakistan of not doing enough to eliminate militant havens on its territory.


For now, officials on both sides are talking up the cooperation on display in Wednesdays rescue operation, when Pakistani troops acting on a U.S. intelligence tip-off swooped on a vehicle carrying the hostages.

But tensions remain.



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