From Trump to Putin | Editorial

Prime Minister Imran Khan has a loaded agenda. On July 22, US President Donald Trump has invited him for a meeting and from September 4 to 6 Russian President Putin. Both these presidents have an uncanny intimacy as they continue exchanging smiles whenever they meet in person and barbs when they are at a distance. The prime minister’s meeting with Donald Trump will follow his meeting with Putin. Given the animosity between the two presidents, we can say that our prime minister is going to be between a rock and a hard place.
Much has been speculated about his forthcoming meeting with Donald Trump. But less is known about his meeting with Putin. In Russia, he is supposed to attend the Eastern Economic Forum that was formed through a presidential decree in 2005. On the sidelines of the last month’s summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, Imran Khan was seen conversing with the Russian president a number of times.
Relevance of Russia as a regional player cannot be set off more. After the cold war, Moscow has actively been engaged in building up structures to challenge western and American systems to influence the globe. Recently, it was in a direct conflict with the US over the build-up of forces around Iran. This is where Pakistan is relevant for both the US and Russia, like historically it has been throughout the Afghan debacle.
In its early days, Iran saw Pakistan as a buffer zone between Russia and itself and invested its energies to strengthen this zone. After the cold war, Russia and Iran were found together like strange bed fellows. Iran has long slipped out of the US grip. In addition, no regime change move was launched in Iran in recent years like in other Middle Eastern countries.
This is why it has become center of another conflict between the super powers after Afghanistan. At this juncture, both these powers see Pakistan at the same position as they saw it during the Afghan conflict. Pakistan may be geographically located close to both Iran and Afghanistan but Russia and the US must have realised that Iran is not Afghanistan. Perhaps this is why they both are treating it with ultra care.
Prime Minister Imran Khan is also advised to be careful treading that tightrope. Afghanistan has already been seen as an elephant in the room. We cannot afford to have another front open on our doorstep.
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