Washington: A noted US expert on South Asian affairs said that in last one year there have been enough indications that Islamabad is not on board with the US on Afghanistan. This statement came amidst a statement by the White House reiterating that Pakistan remains its ally in the war against terrorism.

“There have been enough indications over the last year that Pakistan is not on board with the US strategy in Afghanistan. This should be no surprise to anyone,” Lisa Curtis of the Heritage Foundation, said.

She was reacting to a report in The Wall Street Journal, which said that Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, during his recent trip to Kabul, asked Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai to dump the US and instead align itself with Pakistan and China for help in striking a peace deal with Taliban and rebuilding the economy.

The news report was denied by Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani.

“Reports claiming Gilani-Karzai discussion about Pakistan advising alignment away from US are inaccurate,” Haqqani said.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson went even further, calling it, "the most ridiculous report we have come across.”

The article asserts that Gilani sought to convince Karzai to break relations with the US and instead seek an alliance with Pakistan and China, both of which are not keen on the prospect of permanent US bases in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan is still a US ally,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters when asked about the report.

Curtis said it was plausible that Pakistan has decided to start playing its cards with Afghan and Chinese leaders to try to achieve its own objectives in Afghanistan.

“The Pakistanis have never shied away from hardball tactics to achieve their strategic goals. They are adept at mixing tough messages with diplomatic finesse. Thus we should expect more firm denials of the story from Pakistani diplomats,” she said.

The US, she argued, must judge Pakistani actions—rather than statements or 'reported' statements—to determine whether the US–Pakistani partnership is serving mutual goals.

“After providing Pakistan over USD 20 billion in military and economic aid over the last 10 years and exercising diplomatic patience in the face of growing reports of Pakistani duplicity in the fight against terrorism,
Washington should expect to see Pakistani commitment to dealing with Taliban sanctuaries on its soil and a genuine effort to break the Taliban from al-Qaeda's clutches,” she said, adding neither the US nor Pakistan can afford to allow the partnership to rupture.

“But neither can the US allow Pakistan to reinstall the Taliban in Afghanistan. Pakistan may share a border with Afghanistan, but the 9/11 attacks have dictated that the US will remain engaged in the region — militarily and diplomatically — for a long time to come,” Curtis said.

“The Pakistani leadership would understand this more clearly and thus be more willing to cooperate with us to uproot the terrorism that also threatens their own stability if the Obama Administration demonstrated a firmer commitment to the Afghan mission,” she said.

(Agencies)