THOUGH the United States is persisting with policy of putting increased pressure on Pakistan to make it accept conditions for cooperation in the war on terror but, of late, there are indications of sanity prevailing in bilateral relations. US Defence Secretary James Mattis say the Pentagon was maintaining its communication with the Pakistani military establishment, including with Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, even after suspending its security assistance to Pakistan. Similarly, Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua has said that Pakistan will continue to have engagement, as far as possible, with the US because America is not only a global power but also has presence in the region, and ‘for us it’s almost our neighbour’.
Rhetoric notwithstanding, the fact remains none of the two countries can further their national objectives without a close and sincere cooperation and relationship based on principles of equality. No doubt, Pakistan has much to lose both in terms of military and economic assistance yet the United States alone cannot dream of fulfilling plans and objectives in Afghanistan without Pakistan’s cooperation. This is what the New York Times has also pointed out to President Trump’s bombast and the precipitous way the decision seems to have been made that have led to doubts that if Mr. Trump has a serious plan for managing the ramifications of this move. The article warned US Administration that a decision to withdraw or limit support may, alternatively, suggest an opening into the further enhancement of Pakistan’s friendship with China, ‘which is already investing in major new infrastructure projects and expanding its international leadership’. Pakistan might face some economic and security related issues and challenges but it can mitigate its sufferings by building upon its policy of forging ties with Beijing, Moscow and entering into more robust relationship with Tehran. Besides growing economic and financial cooperation, there is also a sort of consensus among Pakistan, China and Russia about regional solution to the issue of Afghanistan. Washington’s attempts to antagonise Pakistan could mean it would remain bogged down in Afghan mess for decades and it would become another Vietnam. Trump seems to be in a hurry to exploit vast untapped natural resources of Afghanistan but this requires restoration of complete peace there, which cannot be achieved without a helping hand from Pakistan.