Positive turn in Pak-US ties

IT is satisfying that Pakistan-US relations are once again on the positive trajectory, thanks to meaningful engagement between the two countries at different levels. Following a substantive meeting of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi with US Vice President Mike Pence on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York where two sides agreed to continue engagement and consultations, Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif and his American counterpart Rex Tillerson had an in-depth exchange of view on different aspects of the bilateral relationship and reached a level of understanding to bridge differences and forge ties.
Pakistan-US relations were on tenterhooks ever since announcement of Afghanistan and South Asia strategy by American President Donald Trump, which created strong resentment in Islamabad that the United States was unfairly treating Pakistan despite its enormous sacrifices and contribution in the war against terror and also that India was being showered undue favours especially in the context of Afghanistan and also despite massive human rights violations in Occupied Kashmir by Indian security forces. Khawaja Asif boldly and frankly conveyed Pakistani concerns and apprehensions to the other side and the response was quite encouraging. That the Foreign Minister was able to put across Pakistan’s point of view in a convincing manner was vindicated by the fact that the US agreed to assuage its concerns. More importantly, the US Secretary of State argued that Pak-US relationship is not just about Afghanistan but also about the importance of Pakistan. The US desire that the two sides should work very hard at all levels, from the State Department to the Defence Department to intelligence services, as well as economic, commerce opportunities is a clear indication that Washington wants to have a broad-based relationship with Pakistan. This is the only option for the two countries as none of them can advance their national goals and interests especially in this part of the region without a strong partnership. However, we may point out that if the United States sincerely believes in what Rex Tillerson conveyed to Khawaja Asif, it should immediately discard the policy of ‘sticks’ as reflected in stoppage of committed aid, reimbursement of expenditure on war on terror and drone strikes inside Pakistan. Pakistan would get a better deal if there is cohesion among institutions at home as even Tillerson had to refer to an instable govt in Islamabad and it is therefore imperative that all semblance of institutional clash should come to an end at the earliest.

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