Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal
PRIME Minister Imran Khan’s three-day Washington visit has invigorated the bilateral relations between Pakistan and the United States. His meetings with President Trump, economic czars, Pakistani diaspora and media have improved the image of the country and generated hope for better bilateral relations based on mutual trust and cooperation instead of patron-client state relationship. He shared his regional and global outlook with President Donald Trump and persuasively maintained that prerequisite for the regional peace and prosperity is the solution of Kashmir dispute and end of protracted warfare in Afghanistan through the dialogue process. Prime Minister Khan has introduced a correct dimension in both states relationship. On 23 July while speaking at the United States Institute of Peace, he spelled out his rules of engagement with the US. He said, “We would like to have a relationship based on mutual trust, as equals, as friends and not as before when Pakistan wanted aid, and in return, it was asked to perform certain tasks for the US.” Indeed, it is an appropriate approach in dealing with the United States.
The Indian forces brutality in the occupied Kashmir has also upset President Trump. He offered Khan in their one to one meeting to assist India and Pakistan in resolving the Kashmir dispute. He said, “If I can help, I would love to be a mediator….If I can do anything to help, let me know.” He also shared the information with the media that Prime Minister Modi requested him for his assistance to end the violence in the Indian Occupied Kashmir. He said, “I was with Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi two weeks ago. We talked about the subject, and he said, ‘Would you like to be a mediator or arbitrator?’. I said where, he said Kashmir because it has been going on for many, many years.” Prime Minister Khan, without any hesitation, welcomed President Trump’s peace-making offer. However, the Indian response was very depressing. The frank and open arbitration offer of Trump set off a storm in India. Both the Indian ruling elite and media reaction is very deleterious. Foreign Minister Subrahmanyan Jaishankar told India Parliament, “The US President made certain remarks to the effect he was ready to mediate if requested by India and Pakistan. I categorically assure the House that no such request has been made by the Prime Minister, I repeat, no such request was made.”
The denial of the Indians is understandable that they always oppose rhetorically third-party mediation in India and Pakistan bilateral disputes, particularly on Kashmir. In practice, they always approach the United States for bailing India out in a crisis with Pakistan or pressurizing Pakistan to accept India’s hegemony in the region. However, they are disinclined to accept or trust the US in settling its disputes with Pakistan. The positive outcome of the recent threesome response—US, Pakistan, and India—on the Kashmir situation is that the issue has been immensely highlighted and India’s stubborn attitude, its continuous atrocities in Kashmir and unpreparedness to resolve the 70-year long dispute were exposed. Afghanistan remained one of the most critical issues during the visit. Premier Khan firmly maintained that instead of the military machine, the dialogue is the only option for durable peace in Afghanistan. He categorically told President Trump there was only one solution for Afghanistan, and that is peace deal with the Taliban. The latter concurred the former’s proposition, which vindicates Pakistan’s stance on Afghanistan.
President Trump expressed his desire for a quick and peaceful solution to the Afghanistan crisis. So that American and NATO troops leave the country. In this context, he requested Khan for the sincere support of Pakistan. Indeed, peaceful Afghanistan is in the interest of Pakistan. Therefore, with or without the support of Washington, Islamabad has been struggling to restore peace in Afghanistan. Prime Minister Khan shared investment opportunities available in Pakistan with the American investors as well as Pakistani diaspora. The response was very encouraging. President Trump told Khan that the US is willing to invest in Pakistan and sees great trade relationship between the two countries. Notably, the US is the largest export market for Pakistan goods and is also one of the top five investors in Pakistan. To conclude, Prime Minister Imran Khan and his diplomatic team have succeeded in swapping mistrust with trust between Pakistan and the United States.
— The writer is Professor, School of Politics and International Relations and author of India’s Surgical Strike Stratagem: Brinkmanship and Response.