NAWAZ’S US YATRA: MUCH MORE IMPRESSIVE THAN EVER BEFORE

Salahuddin Haider

Thursday, October 29, 2015 – ENORMOUS amount of comments, some favourable, some critical, have already been on the surface about Nawaz Sharif’s latest Yatra to the US. A deeper, comprehensive analysis, therefore, is now an automatic necessity. Sentiments of over-patriotism apart, international scenario requires dispassionate analysis.

To say that the visit achieved all its objectives, will tantamount to self-deception. It would be more appropriate to admit that it was partly successful in the sense that the premier and his team had done their homework , were able to present their viewpoint with much greater conviction than ever before. But again, to fathom the depth of America’s global philosophy or its policy perceptions, needs to be clearly understood, and our own strategy for improved relationship has to be drawn out keeping in view the ground realities. Emotions will have to be kept aside, because as responsible member of world community,Islamabad too, ought to be absolutely clear in its thinking, which, luckily in this particular case, it was.

Seen in that context , the visit and its outcome, could easily be classified as “balanced” one. It had its pluses and minuses, which is normal and need not be depressing. Overall it was result-oriented, which is what counts in the ultimate analysis. To say that, for the first time, in decades, the visit really served the purpose, or atleast laid the foundation for a healthier and remunerative ties with United States, will not be an improper conclusion.

Some of the major points meriting serious consideration were the agenda prepared jointly by the civilian and military leadership. The fact the two, per force, have to be on one page, need not be over-emphasised. Together, they form a wonderful team. Washington’s desire or keenness to talk separately to ISI chief, Lt-General Rizwan Akhtar, and to army chief, General Raheel Sharif, before and after the premier’s parleys with President Obama, has to be kept in mind, if objectivitysearch, has to be the real purpose.

In terms plain and simple, Nawaz’s agenda was highlighting the Kashmir issue as the base point for peace in the region, seeking America’s good offices for liberating the Indo-Pak ties from persistent tension, keeping his hosts abreast with activities of RAW, the Indian spy master in Karachi, Balochistan, and northern areas, the unending firing along the Line of Control in Kashmir, and the working boundary in Sialkot, Pakistan’s right to be treated at par with its mighty neighbor on supply of nuclear material without much ado, were all true reflection of the aspirations of the Pakistani nation.

That three different dossiers were unhesitatingly or unreservedly handed over by foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz during meeting with State Secretary John Kerry, and prior to that by Maleeha Lodhi, our permanent representative at the UN to the secretary general Ban Ki Moon, of the world body, was indeed very positive, very substantial. This was sadly missing during Pakistan delegations’ earlier visits or parleys with the super power. They were reminded by the Premier of their role and responsibility in easing regional tensions, and ensuring world peace.

Likewise, the need to resolve the Kashmir issue, hanging fire for 68 years, despite being a potential flashpoint, or the dossierssupplied to USA on Indian intervention in Pakistan’s internal affairs, were bold and laudable initiatives. Kashmir issue, after long, long interval, has been brought alive, whose fruits are too vivid to ignore by the renewed Kashmiris’ agitation in Indian-held area.

Pakistan team has done its duty. It put America in the picture. That was what was actually required of us to do. Buying or shelving it is their job. No point bothering about that. Viewing through the history lens, it would be amply clear that choice of glossy words like “relations with Pakistan is a cornerstone of US foreign policy” or praising Islamabad for supreme sacrifices in Afghan war since 1980, have never been a solution to our problems. The frequently used phrase of “do more” is now the responsibility or Americans and their allies.

This time too, although Kashmir was mentioned in the post-summit joint statement, but an official spokesman, soon after Sartaj Aziz assertions about the visit being a “grand success”, let the real story out. He clearly stated that there was “no change” in American policy on Kashmir, and that the dossiers about Indian intervention will require proper study before any comment or commitment could be possible.

Prime Minister, in speech before an American think-tank was quick to clarify that although Pakistan has been dealing deadly blows without discrimination to Taliban, including the Haqqani network, (Obama’s) desire from Pakistan to synchronise Taliban-Afghan government dialogue would just be a dream without a clear-cut policy whether to opt for crushing the Taliban or picking negotiation as a more comfortable or convincing exercise. Co-existence of the two diametrically opposed choices, would be a wishful thinking. He was absolutely right in making that point clear to his hosts on their own soil.

The Pakistani demand, 100 percent justified, in seeking facilities for securing nuclear material, like the one extended to New Delhi, remained unanswered by President Obama, who was much more diligent in his warmth in reception, and hospitality to Nawaz this time, but quiet on sensitive issues.

Summing up now after all these details, would lead to a simpler conclusion that the visit was just half success, but the other half too was productive. Calling it a waste would be too uncharitable a remark to rely upon. Pakistan was able to push its viewpoint across. That in itself was remarkable. However with China on our side, and Russia emerging fast to assert itself internationally, Pakistan will be better off to diversify its foreign and defence policies. Gone are the days of putting all eggs in one basket.

If Americans preferred to be evasive on New York Times report about supply of 8 F-16 combat aircraft, the Chinese and the Russians are now ready to meet our military requirements with sub-marines, helicopters etc. No worry on that point either. The fact that China and Russia are forming an explosive combination, and friendlier towards our causes, should be a matter of satisfaction for Islamabad.

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