MORE than 70 years long Pak-US alliance in various fields is being reengineered by both the allies. The integral role of Pakistan against the (former) Soviet Union, war against terrorism, US-Taliban negotiations and defending the US interests in the region is no more hidden. Pakistan was compelled by the US for alliance on the global war on terror. Pakistan willy-nilly consented to three conditions. Northern Alliance will not control Kabul, assistance in Kashmir issue and the safety of nuclear assets. But the US again proved its fair weather friendship and backed out. The US was aware of Pakistani financial constraints, so it used economic weapons likewise in the past to force Islamabad to do more. Pakistan has paid a heavy price than NATO for $10 billion. The three promises were altered with financial, diplomatic and debt reduction support. Pakistani strategic interests were slaughtered by economic boost through US aid and Afghan refugee funds.
The US gave a new turn to Pak-US relations by the controversial Abbottabad Operation. The US wanted to shake off Pakistani pressure. The NATO forces air raid on Pakistani soldiers in 2011 further deteriorated the relations. The border closure for NATO supplies for Afghanistan added fuel to fire regarding bilateral relations concerning Pakistan security issues. The US took another turn by developing ties with India to pressurize Pakistan. Pakistan also realized that it can no longer move ahead due to its economic dependency on the US. Pakistan sought out China to substitute the US for economic support. The US faced an unexpected situation in Afghanistan as certain forces were supporting Taliban to push the lion back to its din.
The US also committed certain strategic mistakes by opening many war grounds far away from its territory which resulted in its defeat in many regions. Along with other objectives of the US invasion in Afghanistan was to get hold of the Asia-Pacific region. The region comprises 20 world economies with a total GDP of $67 trillion. Six of the world’s top economies are contemporary in this region. China, the world’s second largest economy is participating heavily in the region through its CPEC and OBOR projects. The US’ initial interests in Afghanistan have been accomplished through Pakistan, now it is stepping ahead for greater targets in the Asia-Pacific region. The increasing Chinese role in the region has compelled India to join hands with the US contrary to India’s past reluctance to join the US alliance. The US is reengineering its relations with India which will ultimately give a jolt to the Pak-Us relations.
The US-India alliance is aimed to control Chinese influence in the region while Pak-China are collaborating in development. The US-India wants to control sea-lanes and trade corridors of the regions which are detrimental to Pak-China and Russian interests. India has developed ties with the US to pressurize Pakistan while the US wants to empower India to confront China. The US-India ties have surely shaken Pak-US relations as the US support to India is resulting in losing balance of power in the region which may result into a nuclear flash point in the region. As the US-India ties started growing, Pakistan shifted its policy from the US to China diplomatically. The US targets in the Middle East can easily be achieved through India as the US has loose hold over there. Asia-Pacific will smother the way to the US fidgets in both South Asia and the Middle East. Iran being Islamic as well as neighbour of Pakistan is on the top list of the US challenges. The US-India-Israel ties are posing a danger to Iran and broadly to the Middle East which is not favourable for Pakistan. The US future demand for cooperation from Pakistan in case of the US-Iran conflict, Pakistan might not follow the instructions as it has shaken its neck from the US economic yoke. Great powers always hanker after rising regional powers, and the US’ decision of shaking hands with India is a wrong turn as none of the Indian neighbours is on term with it. CPEC and Pak-Russian joint military exercises have given a clear clue to the US. The US has tried to impose sanction on Pakistan for obtaining the latest technology under several pretexts on Indian provocations but has failed to do so. The US-Indian ties have malicious targets of divide and rule Asia by destabilizing.
South Asia is one of the biggest markets of the US manufactured weapons. If the Kashmir issue is resolved its weapon manufacturing will get a great setback. Pak-US relations were the exigency of Pakistani strategic policy to get updated technology and defence apparatus to cope with Indian aggression. Pak-US relations have always been transactional, varying in accordance with the US interests. Pak-US relations have entered a new era where both the countries need dialogues to reshape, reengineer and redefine their relations on an equal basis to collaborate for achieving greater goals and global peace. It is crystal clear that Pakistan has always been aspiring for peace and prosperity in the region and it is practical about it. Pakistan has good relations to all its neighbours contrary to India. Unlike India, Pakistan has done a practical job in bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan while India is involved in terror activities in Afghanistan to prolong the US stay over there for its vested interests.
The US still needs Pakistan in stabilizing Afghan situation. Pakistan is very crucial for the US than India as it can alleviate anti-Americanism in the Muslim world and building good ties with the Islamic States. For decreasing US-China tension Pakistan is a bridge as it is a friend of both. President Biden has sound knowledge of Pakistan as compared to his predecessors. He has drafted Pakistan-centric legislation, made multiple visits, developed intimate ties with military and civilian patronage and experienced directly the best and worst periods of the Pak-US relationship history. He has even been bestowed with Hilal-i-Pakistan Award. In this perspective, Pak-US relations seem strengthening in future.
—The writer is Prof in English and columnist, based in Lahore.