US-Pak Relations: A Paradigm Shift By Abdul Rahman Malik

With the changing geo-strategic Situation and after the Twitter blitz, Donald Trump has turned to Pakistan to get rid of the Afghan mess and is seeking help from Islamabad to influence the Taliban by bringing them to the negotiating table. The Russian Peace Talks with the participation of the stakeholders along with Insurgent Taliban leadership and Afghanistan Peace Council Delegation held talks in Moscow to reach an agreement but the talks, unfortunately, did not bear any fruit.
US-Pakistan relations have always been overcast with mistrust but this time, the onus has been felt and new terms of engagement have surfaced with the New Government of Pakistan. Imran Khan in his exclusive interview with the Washington Post has made it clear that Pakistan is not a hired gun and will not fight anyone’s war.
The Peace in Afghanistan is in favour of Pakistan. The Foreign Office will draft a reply to the letter and will present it to Prime Minister Imran Khan for approval. The analysts and political pundits have termed the development as positive, and this time the Trump administration seems to be serious in their engagement with Pakistan. The incoming US central command Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie, has also said that he will engage with Pakistan on priority basis as directed by the US president; since the US wants to start direct talks with the insurgent Taliban and bring them to negotiating table to devise a sharable government plan and the possible amendments in the Afghan Constitution.
With Kartarpur Corridor opening to facilitate the Sikh Pilgrims of India and the recent paradigm shift in the US-Pakistan Relations, are being termed as watershed moments for both Pakistan and the US to work together to bring normalcy in Afghanistan. Since both US and Pakistan have suffered a lot in the so-called War on terror and Pakistan has done a lot more than expected as a US Ally.
Pakistan facilitated the US by giving her ground, air and communication channels that played a vital role as a close ally in post 9/11 arena and the US’ bid for a regime change in Afghanistan.
Donald Trump’s irresponsible Twitter tirade against Pakistan blaming that despite paying millions of Rupees in security aid, Pakistan has deceived the US and did not do a damn thing, has stirred widespread criticism. The global community is well aware that Pakistan suffered a lot being a US ally that is the mistrust that has become a stalemate between US-Pak relations, and the ambiguities that have stalled the diplomatic relations.
Pakistan facilitated the US by giving her ground, air and communication channels that played a vital role as a close ally in post 9/11 arena and the US’ bid for a regime change in Afghanistan
With increasing US alignment towards India and signing various trade agreement with the Modi Regime, they have also created a sense of disappointment in the circles of civil and military leadership of Pakistan that despite using us as a scapegoat and a hired gun — our arch rivals are being favoured.
The US might have been advised by various think-tanks and Influencing bodies of political and diplomatic circles that an ally who fought the war on terror is an important ally of the US, however, still Pakistan’s sacrifices are sidelined.
Instead of giving support, the US withheld a huge chunk of security aid and even tried to influence the International Monetary Fund (IMF) not to offer any bailout packages, as it may be used to repay Chinese loans.
Moreover, the US has always demanded that Pakistan do more, and that is really disappointing. Despite all these odds, Pakistan’s civil and military leadership appears to be on the same page and ready to engage with the US on revised terms of engagement for the sake of peace.
Both Pakistan and the US have suffered losses, now, it is time that they should serve the common interests of each other. Pakistan can play a key role in the Afghan peace process since this time, the regional powers of Asia such as Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Turkey and US intend to resolve the issue through dialogue as the Americans have failed to bring peace despite their presence in Afghanistan for the last 17 years.
This is perhaps one of the longest wars they have fought and apparently, they are losing ground since the Taliban seem to be much organized and have become a party to talk too rather than an insurgent group. They have control of various provinces and possess great influence in their controlled areas.
The Afghan Peace process will never succeed unless all the stakeholders are on board especially the Taliban leadership, as prior to the US-led Air strikes, Taliban had full control of all the areas of Afghanistan.
Owing to being a landlocked country, Afghanistan depends on Pakistan for trade and supplies. The Peace Process may pave the way for Pakistan-Afghanistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) that was a bilateral trade agreement signed in 2010 that calls for greater facilitation in the movement of goods between these two countries.
The China Pakistan Economic Corridor is yet another trade route that will benefit Afghanistan if is peace agreement reached between the Taliban and the Afghan Government.
CPEC is a game changer not only for Pakistan but also for the Central Asian States. The analysts are of the view that CPEC may trigger a Hybrid war since it has a very significant geostrategic position that will attract more countries towards it, including the OPEC to use the Gwadar Port for transportation of Oil and LPG gas to the South Asian and Central Asian States.
It is imperative that Pakistan and the US work together for regional peace and especially to reach an agreement with the insurgent Taliban leadership so that Peace can be maintained and restored in Afghanistan.
The withdrawal plan for NATO forces may be chalked out and the refugees’ crisis may be overcome, since Pakistan has not been compensated despite being overburdened by 1.45 million Afghan Refugees as per the recent statistics of UNHCR. Furthermore, the UNHCR termed Pakistan as the world’s biggest country to host such high number of Refugees.
It is hoped that this change of attitude will benefit both the countries, and will improve diplomatic relations and will help in finding lasting solutions to bring peace in the war-torn Afghanistan and the repatriation of Afghan refugees.
The writer is a Kandhkot, District Kashmore-based researcher in Policy matters, Political Science, Political Economy, Education, governance, society, Development Planning and Human Rights. He can be reached at armalik067@gmail.com
Published in Daily Times, December 11th 2018.
Source: https://dailytimes.com.pk/332153/us-pak-relations-a-paradigm-shift/

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