Bajwa’s visit helps maintain a visionary Pak-US reset | By Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi

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Bajwa’s visit helps maintain a visionary Pak-US reset

THE past decade has been an ample evidence to the fact that it is the up or down trajectory that mainly characterize the status of Pakistan-US relationship.

Whatsoever remains regarding the off-on trajectory of this relationship, the inevitable truth is: Still, both the US and Pakistan need each other.

The most recent visit of Pakistan’s Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa — to the US on the invitation of US Department of Defence — who was accompanied by a high-powered delegation that included the Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the Chief of General Staff and the Director General Military Operations) — richly endorses the significance of military to military relations between the two sides.

The revival of the security dialogue ponders a visionary approach beyond US-Pakistan’s China-India policy fixtures.

Last month, a US Congress delegation — consisting of House Representatives, Sheila Jackson Lee, Thomas Suozzi and Alexander N Green — visited the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

The Congress delegation had promised to help Pakistan to counter the flood-induced crisis. Following the Congress delegation visit, the US embassy had said that Washington would provide $30 million in life-saving humanitarian assistance to support people and communities affected by severe flooding in Pakistan through the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

The US recently assured that it would work to strengthen bilateral ties with Pakistan vindicated by Washington’s positive decision to approve a $450 million package sustainment programme for Pakistan’s F16 fleet-a pivotal initiative taken by the Biden administration in reiteration of the same.

The US State Department said that Pakistan’s F16 fleet is an important component of the Pakistan-US relationship and will help Pakistan in its counter terrorism operations.

This revisionist-cum-pragmatic approach fostered by the US State Department clearly reflect on a visionary scope.

Moreover, the US gives priority of maintaining its good relationship with Pakistan’s military establishment.

In this regard, General Bajwa’s current visit has positively served to enhance the scope of bilateral ties between the US and Pakistan.

In April this year, while addressing a security conference in Islamabad, the COAS General Bajwa said, “The good army we have today is largely built and trained by the US.

The best equipment we have is American equipment. We still have deep cooperation with US and our Western friends.

’ General Bajwa reiterated, “We have a history of long and excellent strategic relationship with the US, which remains our largest export market, “Pakistan enjoys a close strategic relationship with China demonstrated by our commitment towards CPEC.

We seek to broaden and expand our ties with both the countries without impacting our relationship with the other. ”

Ostensibly, Pakistan and its military remained instrumental in assisting the US in terminating the Al-Qaeda network in Afghanistan, and especially, evacuating people from Afghanistan last year in the post-Taliban takeover.

In this pivotal visit, General Bajwa met high US military and intelligence officials.. According to the ISPR, last Tuesday, General Bajwa held meetings with US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, during which they discussed the regional security situation.

“This long-standing partnership continues today with discussions focused on opportunities to address key mutual defence interests,” the Pentagon said in a statement on last Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Study Group —whose prime objective is to foster its policy recommendations to the US policymakers vis-à-vis the foreign and civilian assistance accompanied by sustainable development goals SDGS in Pakistan) — a forum of former US officials, especially the former US ambassadors to Pakistan Ryan Crocker, Cameron Munter and Robin Raphel, along with Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador in Washington.

including the representatives of the Washington- based think tanks — released its findings during the visit by the Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, following the visit by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister to Washington, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

“Instead of allowing existing differences to define the partnership, it may be time to recognize that both sides need to understand the other’s interests so that they can then find a way to work on areas of mutual concern/interest,” the Study Group said.

Notably, last month, ‘’the CIA and Pakistan’s ISI buried the hatchet and started cooperating again, under the auspices of General Bajwa thus,’’ Washington and Islamabad are assessing “how Pakistan [will] help the US keep a check on Afghan Taliban activity with regards to transnational jihadism and terrorism.

” Currently, the two US Coast Guard ships made a scheduled port call at Karachi, Pakistan (October 6- 9) — reflecting a strong relationship between the forces of the two countries.

The visits were made as part of an ongoing series of joint exercises and technical exchanges between the United States and Pakistan, the US Naval Forces Central Command said in a statement.

The latest appraisal regarding the Pak-US relations made by the US State Department holds that, ‘’Major US investment is concentrated in consumer goods, chemicals, energy, agriculture, business process out-sourcing, transportation and communications.

The US has sought to deepen commercial ties with Pakistan, including through engagement by senior officials from the US Department of Commerce, Department of State, and the US International Development Finance Corporation with Pakistani leaders.

The United States continues to work with Pakistan to achieve business climate enhancements’’ It further adds, ‘’the primary focus of the US civilian assistance program is to partner with Pakistan in its development toward security, stability and prosperity.

’’ This thinking strongly supports the notion of the growing ties between Washington and Islamabad.

To conclude, General Bajwa’s visit has profoundly helped transform the Pak-US relationship from ‘trust deficit to trust building;’ It can be fairly argued that if the past 75 years have evidenced Pakistan and the US working in tandem together in successfully dealing with some of the leading geopolitical challenges ushered in by the Cold War and the post-Cold War era, there is no question of doubt that the 21st Century fervently offers tremendous potential for economic, security and energy cooperation that would positively revitalise the scope of bilateral civilian and military ties between the both countries.

—The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-international law analyst based in Pakistan, is member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies, also a member of Washington Foreign Law Society and European Society of International Law. He deals with the strategic and nuclear issues.

 

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