Talks with the US

AMERICAN delegation led by Secretary of State Michael Pompeo visited Pakistan on Wednesday amid atmosphere of mistrust because of several pre-visit announcements from Washington aimed at pressurising Pakistan but it is encouraging that actual talks were in general positive and the two sides apparently agreed to remain engaged in an effort to find mutually acceptable terms of bilateral relationship. In the delegation level talks and during Pompeo’s meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan, the two countries put across their point of view and concerns candidly and it is hoped that interaction would provide a basis for further result-oriented discussions.
One point that emerged quite visibly from the talks was that both sides referred to ‘reset’ of the relationship, which is apparently a dodging term as it could mean something different for Pakistan and quite opposite for the United States. As explained later by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi Pakistan wants a relationship based on mutual trust and respect in which Pakistani concerns are taken as seriously as those of the United States. However, in the backdrop of a series of punitive actions taken by the US administration against Pakistan, it is obvious that Washington is not trusting Islamabad as it should as a frontline ally in the war against terror, which suffered immensely both in terms of men and material. Strangely enough, the United States wants Pakistan to intensify its contribution in counter-terrorism campaign but it is neither willing to reimburse expenses incurred on this account despite clear commitments but is also creating obstacles in the way of economic development of Pakistan.
With this in view, it is unfortunate that Pakistani side chose not to take up the issue of diversion of $300m that the US was supposed to reimburse Pakistan. Plea of the Foreign Minister that he chose not to do so as Pakistan would now focus on self-reliance is contradictory in the backdrop of what he said on the issue before arrival of the US delegation in Pakistan. People would appreciate if Pakistan opts not to spread the begging bowl before the US but reimbursements are quite different and in the absence of renewed understanding on the issue, Islamabad must review all aspects of the war on terror that are not strictly related to our national security and defence.

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