Transpose in Pak-US Relations By Reema Shaukat

PAK-US diplomatic relations date back from October 20, 1947. Apart from other cordial and subtle relations, Pakistan and USA relationship is more or less based on economic and military support. Pakistan has always proved to be strategic partner of US. In the Post-Cold War era, Pakistan proved to be time tested friend of USA where it had the option of being ally to either USA or Soviet Union, but Pakistan rendered all support to USA in its war with former USSR to become super power.
Unfortunately, at the end of war between two powers of that time, Pakistan later had to face mess of Russian invasion in Afghanistan. Pakistan extended its full support to Afghan Muslim brethren but tactlessly it was left alone to wipe the muddle of other countries. Pakistan was not only left unaccompanied by its allies in vulnerable condition but with traumas of troubled economy, disturbed infrastructure and population burden of millions of Afghan refugees. Since 9/11 the Pak USA ties extra fabricated when Pakistan decided to be a part of alliance of USA in its war against terrorism.
Unluckily here again Pakistan suffered more than the war zone and it is still paying huge price in the form of menace of terrorism and it’s after affects in country. Since August 2017, Pak-US relations are following bumpy paths. It was expected that Trump’s new policies will acknowledge Pakistan’s greater role in South Asian peace and stability but in turn they proved harder for Pakistan where it was asked to stop giving safe havens to terrorists, which do not exist in Pakistan. The year 2018 began with a new tweet of President Trump where Pakistan was blamed for lies and deceit in the war against terrorism and was asked to return the amount so far US has spent on Pakistan. Relations between Pakistan and US continued with ups and downs in the year 2018. US many times announced cut down in military aid to Pakistan and pressurised to ‘do more’, for which Pakistan’s response was no more. Nonetheless Pakistan has always denied these allegations but it appears that US wants to decree its failure of policies in Afghanistan by blaming Pakistan. It was never Pakistan’s war which was inculcated upon it by US and Pakistan’s loss in terms of human & monetary value is more than given funds.
After the elections in Pakistan, held in July 2018 new government has taken charge of affairs of state. Like previous reigns, this new government is also focusing on fostering bilateral relations with all countries and has always shown positive response for regional peace and stability and keen to play its role. Recently, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo visited Pakistan. His visit was important in the sense that after the change of government, this was first official visit by any of US representative. Interestingly, US cancelled $ 300 million of aid to Pakistan just days before a visit by Washington’s top diplomat. The reason for this US frustration was pointed out as that Islamabad is still doing too little to rein in Afghan militants. The Pentagon said it would spend the military aid elsewhere because of lack of Pakistani action backing US troops in Afghanistan. According to US stance money was suspended because of “lack of Pakistani decisive actions in support of the South Asia Strategy”. This action of freezing funds could be that US either wants to redesign its aid programme for South Asia and ask Pakistan to review its policies or it can also put pressure on Pakistan to act according to American will and may take the veil of FATF action against Pakistan. Further when Pakistan is looking towards IMF for loans, US pressure on Pakistan cannot be ignored.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made visit to Pakistan along with US military Chief General Joseph Dunford in last week and met PM along with our authorities. In this meeting security situation of Afghanistan and Pakistan’s shaky cooperation with US on matters of Afghanistan was the American agenda. Whereas Pakistan’s Foreign Office said that “discussions on bilateral, regional and international issues” took place. Pak Foreign Minister mentioned in his statement that “there is a need to reset bilateral ties on basis of mutual trust and respect”. Mike Pompeo before the visit made a statement that “there are lot of challenges between our two nations for sure but we’re hopeful that with the new leadership that we can find common ground and we can begin to work on some of our shared problems together”.
However, about the visit of Pompeo, US state department issued a statement and mentioned that our secretary has conveyed the need for Pakistan to take ‘sustained and decisive measures’ against terrorists and militants threatening regional peace and stability in all his meetings with civil and military leadership of Pakistan. He also emphasised the important role Pakistan could play in bringing about a negotiated peace in Afghanistan. The meeting between the officials of US and Pakistan ended with positive note and high hopes. While Pakistan want to reset its relations with US, other side needs to comprehend dynamic role of Pakistan in war against terrorism. International community must understand Pakistan’s role as front liner and know that failure to achieve desired objective to root out terrorism from the area, would be equally shared by entire international community as well as US. US also needs to review its carrot & stick policy for Pakistan. Pakistan must not rely on US for assistance but should focus on better ties with all states to prove to world as a nation standing strong despite all challenges.
— The writer works for Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, a think-tank based in Islamabad.

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