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WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State John Kerry may visit Pakistan this week -- or he may not. Or he may not visit but say he will. Or he may visit and wish he had not. Or wish he did, but may not. It's all a part of the comical/farcical engagement between Washington and Islamabad that has plumbed ludicrous levels.High-level US visits to Pakistan are a high-wire act, involving not just diplomatic sensitivities between the two sides that are at war in all but formal declaration, but also deep security concerns for visiting VIPs. Between bomb blasts, prison breaks, natural disasters, the ritual killing of minorities, and Pakistan's own foreign engagement priorities (where China and Saudi Arabia rank at 1 and 2), it's tough to get a clear window in which the US can engage Pakistan.Then there is always the drone factor -- any visit will have to be squeezed in between two drone strikes. Although they are now reduced to less than one per week, it's still a tight window, not to speak of the awkwardness that comes with the denials and obfuscation from both sides on the drone issue.Pakistan says it is against drone strikes and wants it stopped. Increasingly and vehemently, Pakistan's foreign office has begun protesting such attacks. But US keeps leaking cables and information suggesting Pakistan has privately acquiesced to the strikes and is making a pretense of its public protests. Pakistan says that is not true. The Americans say that is true which is why the drones are not being shot down. No one knows the exact truth in this smoke and mirror exercise.No public statement emerging from the two capitals can be taken at face value. The US had announced that President Obama would visit Pakistan in 2011 after Islamabad went into a sulk over his visit to India in 2010. The White House even issued a statement saying, ''The president explained (to visiting Pakistani officials who complained about the unequal treatment) that he would not be stopping in Pakistan during his trip to Asia next month, and committed to visiting Pakistan in 2011.''But 2011 came and went, as did 2012, without any presidential visit, even though Obama came within sniffing distance, to Kabul, in May 2012. Meantime, even vice-president Biden came to the region but did not stop by in Pakistan. Compounding all this, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is again visiting Washington in September, in a further signal that the US has removed Pakistan from the US-India ambit.Orphaned thus by its principle patron, Pakistan has been spitefully leaking details of a proposed Kerry visit -- kept secret for security reasons -- forcing the State Department to repeatedly postpone the trip. This happened again over the weekend.Between the scheduling spat, neither side has been able to identify any precise deliverables from such as visit. Pakistan does not even have a full-fledged foreign minister after Hina Rabbani Khar; Sartaz Aziz is the acting foreign minister, nor a full-time ambassador in Washington. Even if it did, Washington understands that it is the Pakistani military that calls the shots which is why Kerry has interacted mostly with Army chief Kayani on the outcomes from the trilateral talks over Afghanistan.It's all one awful mess, and Kerry, who has devoted immense amount of energy for a breakthrough in the Middle-East (to where he has made some half-dozen trips since becoming secretary of state, seems to have little time for Pakistan, which the US has previously said is the most dangerous country in the world. If and when he visits this red-flagged state -- possibly in a wig and dark glasses -- the world might not know till he gets in, or even till he gets out.
The USA is back to its old tricks again. Much like Barrack Obama had no cogent answer to the College Student's question in Mumbai as to why the USA supports Pakistan any move the USA makes in the subcontinent is self-serving