Thursday, March 12, 2009
General Kayani's Three Cups of Tea
On the first cup, you're a stranger, and on the second, a guest. By the third cup, you're family.
First introduced to the West by Greg Mortenson's book title "Three Cups of Tea", the Pakistani tea proverb has been seized by Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, who is trying to make friends with General Asfaq Parvez Kayani seen by the Americans as the key to getting Pakistan's help in Afghanistan. The US military leader likes to tell people he's on his third cup of tea with the head of Pakistan Army, according to the US weekly magazine Newsweek.
There has been a series of meetings between Adm. Mullen and Gen. Kayani in Islamabad, Washington, aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, and other locations since Gen. Kayani was appointed by President Musharraf as Pakistan's chief of army staff in 2007. Mullen thinks there has been significant progress.
In an interview, Mullen has told NEWSWEEK that Kayani was making promises and keeping them. Mullen may want to return the favor. Last week, according to one of the sources, Pakistan requested more equipment, including Scout UAVs for reconnaissance and devices to intercept communications. And there's still the matter of those airstrikes, which Kayani says are fueling anti-US sentiments among the Pakistani people. During his recent Washington visit, according to Pakistani sources, Kayani and Pakistani ministers pressed Washington to halt unmanned Predator attacks, which in recent months have reportedly killed about a dozen top Qaeda and Taliban operatives, along with dozens of innocent civilians. The administration's response: no.
It seems to me that the Pakistani tea analogy only applies when both parties seek a genuine alliance as equals rather than total compliance, which is effectively what US appears to be seeking from Pakistani military in the ongoing Mullen-Kayani talks. Regardless of the amount of money and equipment the US offers him, Kayani can not afford to be seen by Pakistanis as caving in to the US demands. Families do not expect their members and friends to attack the family home. The continuing American Predator strikes represent the biggest stumbling block in the way of serious and committed US-Pakistan military alliance in Pakistan-Afghan border areas.
Mullen's experience with Kayani should serve as a warning for Amb. Holbrooke, the bulldozer, as he seeks Pakistan's help to resolve the crisis in Afghanistan.
FATA Raid Charades
Schools versus Missiles in Pakistan
Three Cups of Tea
Try a Little Tea and Sympathy