Dr Muhammad Khan
There is a growing realisation in Washington that, deterioration in the Pak-US relations does not serve the US long-term objectives in South and Central Asian regions. This realisation was felt immediately after Trump announced its South Asian policy in August 2017. However, various lobbies working in the US constrained Trump Administration to reconcile its some of actions, which Pakistan rejected all together, considering those against its national interest. Despite US pressure and stoppage of its financial assistance, Pakistani response was well thought out and responsible.
Currently there have been two major developments for easing the tension between Pakistan and United States. US Vice President Mike Pence had a telephonic conversion with caretaker Prime Minister of Pakistan, retired Justice Nasirul Mulk, conveying him well wishes from President Trump and assuring him of complete US support. Earlier, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had an indepth discussion with Pakistani Army Chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa on a range of issues. According to US Secretary Pompeo and General Bajwa discussed “advancing US-Pakistani relations, the need for political reconciliation in Afghanistan and the importance of targeting all militant and terrorist groups in South Asia without any distinction.”
Advancing Pak-US relationship by eradicating irritants is a major challenge, facing Islamabad and Washington. Out of these irritants, restoration of peace in Afghanistan has always figured out as the major cause in in the bilateral relationship of both countries. On this issue, there exists distrust and misperception between US and Pakistan. US blame Pakistan for the continuation of militancy in Afghanistan, whereas Pakistan feels that, it is because lack of will at Kabul and Washington which allows continuation of infighting between Taliban and Afghan forces. Pakistan has time and again ensured US that, its soil is not being used by Haqqani network against Afghanistan. Which US does not believe while having no evidence?
India is another irritant in the bilateral relationship of Pakistan and US. Indeed, in the contemporary regional scenario, Washington’s actions against Pakistan are mostly been viewed as New Delhi motivated. May be it is terrorism, Afghanistan, economy or diplomacy, generally it has been noted that, Washington takes a lead from New Delhi in its relationship with Islamabad. On its part, India is all out to target Pakistan on all fronts as a state policy. Indian spying network; Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) through its front organisation titled “A Publication of Bureau of political Research and Analysis” keeps on bashing Pakistan, Pakistani Armed Forces and ISI on one count or the other. Indian media and its state machinery is always seen busy in negatively portraying Pakistani image to mislead the world. For example, the recent US travel restriction over Pakistan diplomats within a radius of 25 kms has been misreported and negatively projected by India through a number of allegations. Though US act is quite adolescent, however India is further fuelling this incident to enlarge the gulf between both countries.
RAW is also projecting that, 14000 Indian citizens died in various terror attacks, sponsored by Pakistan in last 28 years, a baseless allegation. The truth is that, all terrorist networks in Pakistan are funded and harboured by New Delhi. There is a close cooperation between NDS of Afghanistan and Indian RAW for terrorist training, abetting and their financing to destabilise and destroy Pakistan. RAW also projecting BVR Missile test fire from Tejas, mainly projecting the indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, besides successful firing of Air-to-Air Beyond Visual Range Missile (BVR). To create further rift in the Pak-US relationship, RAW and Indian media is projecting the recent closeness in the Pakistan-Russian relationship. Indeed, India is projecting this relationship to the disadvantage of United States. Indeed, China-Russia- Pakistani tri-angle for regional stability through peace in Afghanistan is negatively projected by India, for obvious reasons that India and U.S may desire the other way.
The current Indian centric US foreign policy towards Pakistan may have been obligated by its strategic and economic interest in India. But, this has deteriorated the regional peace in South Asia and enhanced the trends of terrorism in the region. US must stop seeing Pakistan from the Indian prism. It has to make an independent and bilateral relationship with Pakistan. The last one year’s US policies towards Pakistan are Indian centric, which US need to review and reconcile.
According to a senior US Presidential adviser, Lisa Curtis, Pakistan and United States are cooperating for larger peace and stability in Afghanistan. She said in a seminar in Washington that, Pakistan and U.S are pursuing “multiple lines of effort” for bringing peace in Afghanistan. “And we have sought to understand Pakistan’s own core security concerns and ensure that its interests are taken into account in any peace process.” This is a precise, constructive and workable approach; US need to take into consideration for a durable peace in Afghanistan. Geopolitically, Pakistan is a very significant country, thus US should not marginalise it at the desires of its rivals. Rather, Pak-US bilateral relationship should be revamped on the principles of mutuality, integrity, respect, sovereignty and as partners for peace in South Asia. Therefore, there is a requirement for the reconciliation of Pak-US relationship in the changing geopolitical developments at global level.
— The writer, Professor of Politics and International Relations, is based in Islamabad.