The way forward in Pakistan-U.S. relations

A turning point in Pakistan-US relations and the maybe first step toward the restoration of traditional friendship between Pakistan and the US. After years of favoring New Delhi, the US is now back to balance between India and Pakistan. Washington isn’t just sitting pretty watching India play both sides. Responding to New Delhi’s hedging on its own, the US is gearing up to balance the military relationship with Islamabad. The State Department has pushed back against India’s protests by saying it values its relations with both sides, Pakistan seems to have been let out of Washington’s doghouse. Last week, State fêted Pakistan’s foreign minister for a week-long sojourn, topped with a ceremony commemorating 75 years of diplomatic ties at the Museum of American Diplomacy. His Indian counterpart — who was in town around the same time complaining about the Pakistani weapons deal — was also given the royal treatment, with a dinner at Blinken’s home.

Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited the United States on a weeklong trip, surely another sign to improve relations between the two sides. Reports in local media said General Bajwa was accompanied by a high-powered delegation including the Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the Chief of General Staff, and the director general of military operations. He met senior officials including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, National Intelligence Director Avril D. Haines, and CIA Director William J. Burns. He also met members of various think tanks and other scholars interested in Pakistan affairs, per reports.

Earlier, a report in Nikkei Asia quoting sources suggests that he held a rare telephonic conversation with US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman earlier this week as deteriorating foreign reserves overshadow economic recovery. During his call with the US Deputy Secretary of State, COAS Bajwa urged the White House and the US Treasury Department for the quick supply of $1.2 billion to Pakistan. His last visit to the US was in 2019 when he accompanied ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan on a three-day trip.

General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) called on General Birame Diop (Senegal), United Nations (UN) Military Advisor to Secretary General during an official visit to the United States (US). During the meeting, matters of mutual interest, and the overall regional security situation including natural disasters caused by floods across the country came under discussion. COAS appreciated the role of the office of the UN Military Advisor in promoting UN core values and their response during crises.

It is a strategic move at a crucial moment. It will open avenues of collaboration in many areas, and assist in helping to expand all-dimension cooperation. After a long vacuum, the appointment of the US Ambassador to Pakistan was already a genuine achievement and the right step in this regard. The political and diplomatic relations must be upgraded to the highest level, which will pave the way for the overall improvement of relations.

Pakistan was keeping American interests in this part of the world, and for seven decades, it ensured that the US achieved all its strategic goals in this region.

However, although Pakistan extends a cordial hand of friendship to the US whenever it needs support, the US always steps back when it no longer needs a Pakistani role in an issue, and relations decline. Pakistan has faced some of the toughest and strictest US sanctions in history. The US believes in transactional relations, whereas, Pakistan expects an all-weather, all-time, all-dimensions, and everlasting friendship, above any materialistic gains, or visible interests.

The two countries have always cooperated with each other on their common goals and interests, though the US has failed to value Pakistan’s interests and has kept on making demands. “Do more” has been the message of the US leadership in recent years, without understanding Pakistan’s capacity to comply, or its own interests.

During the past few years, the US has blamed and threatened Pakistan. Of course, there exist some concerns on both sides, and some of these may be genuine, but some are based on misunderstandings only. It requires a comprehensive dialogue to understand each other’s points of view and resolve all differences amicably.

Pakistan’s concerns:-

The US is supporting India militarily, which is a direct threat to Pakistan’s security. The transfer of advanced technologies may lead India to develop weapons of mass destruction, which will destabilize not only this region but the whole world. The recent arms deal signed with India worth %8 billion is a direct threat to the whole region, it may start an arms race and confrontation between India and all its neighbors.

US policies are offensive to many nations worldwide and force them to join clubs on the other side. The US is facing isolation globally. It needs to revise its current policies and understand emerging trends and learn how to respect others’ needs.

The US has announced it will cut aid to Pakistan. First of all, US aid is very meager and Pakistan is not dependent on US financial support anymore. Especially with the launch of CPEC, US aid is meaningless to Pakistan.

The US is blaming Pakistan for its failure in Afghanistan, which is not justified at all. The US must accept its defeat and face the mess it has created in Afghanistan.

The US wants an Indian role in Afghanistan, replacing Pakistan, which is not possible. India does not have a common border with Afghanistan, has nothing in common with it, nor any understanding of Afghan culture, traditions, and history. Meanwhile, Pakistan has a common border, a common culture, tradition, religion, ethnicity, and blood relations. Pakistan has hosted 3 million Afghan refugees since the 1980s. The US must understand ground realities and Pakistan’s importance.

The US is pressuring Pakistan to oppose the BRI, CPEC, and China itself. But any tactics played by the US will not harm Pakistan-China relations and the CPEC will keep moving forward at any cost. Both China and Pakistan are on the same page, and complete harmony exists between us.

Pakistan has suffered economic losses worth $123 billion due to the “war on terror.” Pakistan has sacrificed more than 70,000 precious lives, including 5,000 servicemen, and even schoolchildren. We have officially hosted 3.5 million Afghan refugees, but unofficially, counting the unregistered, the true number may be around 5 million. We have faced drug issues, gun cultures, and a deterioration of law and order deterioration due to the “war on terror.” Pakistan was a rapidly developing country in the 1960s and 1970s, but because of the “war on terror,” we faced severe deterioration and lost our position in the international community. We hope the world recognizes our contributions and tries to compensate us. Our vital role may be acknowledged and our struggle for “Peace, Stability, and Prosperity” may be supported. We want to regain our status in the international community. We deserve to maintain our sovereignty and make our own decisions in our own national interests. We want to set our own priorities and survive in complete harmony with the rest of the world.

Pakistan’s geo-strategic importance may be acknowledged and our vital role in this region may be recognized. No other country can replace Pakistan in this part of the world.

The way forward:-

It is desired visa regime may be relaxed, travel advisory may be removed, and the exchange of scholars, intellectuals, and think tanks, may be enhanced. The education sector must be opened to Pakistani youth and all restrictions on Pakistani students must be relaxed. Access to the market may be granted, and unnecessary taxes and duties on Pakistan products may be reduced or waved off. Economic cooperation may be upgraded, investment opportunities must be encouraged and facilitated.

Science and Technology will be the core area of cooperation, transfer of technology, and access to emerging technologies may be facilitated.

Pakistan has been in the American club for more than seven decades, and signatory of several pacts, and agreements with the US. Pakistan stood side by side with the US during the cold war era and its struggle against the communism threat. Pakistan was a front-line ally of the US during its war against the former USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s. Pakistan was a non-NATO close ally during the war on terror after 9/11, in 2001.

Pakistan looked after American interests in this region for seven decades and ensured that the US achieved its all strategic goals. Since the US undermined Pakistan and sidelined it for a decade or longer, the US has been facing failures one after another consecutively. Pakistan’s role is to deceive in this part of the world. Its geostrategic location, resilient force, and political strength are vital for any superpower to sustain its supremacy.

The US has realized the strength of Pakistan and is reverting back to restore the traditional friendship between Pakistan and the US. Early restoration is highly desired. It is anticipated that the Army Chief’s visit will be fruitful and beneficial to the whole nation.

The restoration of Pakistan-US relations is important to the whole region and will bring stability, development, and prosperity to all. It is no threat to any third country in the region. Pakistan is caring well for all its neighbors, and friends in the whole region.

Pakistan is a peace-loving country and our record in the UN peacekeeping force is admirable. Our sacrifices during the “war on terror” go beyond any other country. We promote peace, stability, and prosperity all around the globe. Our role in this region is vital. Pakistan’s geo-strategic importance is well known to the US. Think tanks and military leaders in the US also understand Pakistan’s importance and vital role. Pakistan wants good relations with all countries and would like to extend all possible support and cooperation for achieving the common goal of “Peace, Stability, and Prosperity” throughout the world. We desire to work closely with all countries – including the US.

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