SINCE August 2017, Pak-US relations are following bumpy paths. It was expected that Trump’s new policies will acknowledge Pakistan’s greater role in South Asian peace and stability but in turn they proved harder for Pakistan where it was asked to stop giving safe havens to terrorists, which do not exist in Pakistan. The year 2018 began with a new tweet of President Trump where Pakistan was blamed for ‘lies and deceit’ in the war against terrorism. It is quite rhetoric that with initiation of new year President of US selected a social media to address Pakistan. Well, for past couple of weeks Pak-US relations have turned concerning and decisive for both countries. Different stances are coming from both countries representatives and officials.
According to the US it provided $30b to Pakistan, without understanding that the half of this amount is part of CSF or Coalition Support Fund, which was neither an aid nor assistance. In fact it is the reimbursement of expenses which was acquired by Pakistan for providing land and aerial routes to its ally in War against terrorism. Though Pakistan was provided with CSF but the US off and on pressurised Pakistan with ‘Do More’ mantra and accused of providing safe havens to networks like Haqqanis and JuD. Nonetheless Pakistan has always denied these allegations but it appears that US wants to decree its failure of policies in Afghanistan by blaming Pakistan. It was never Pakistan’s war which was inculcated upon it by US and Pakistan’s loss in terms of human and monetary value is more than the given funds. Interestingly, a book “Fire and Fury” written by ‘Michael Wolf’ was recently released which narrates the one year of Trump in White House. According to this book, Trump because of its policies shows his indecisive personality who does not understand world politics and every relations is measured in terms of wealth and monetary benefits. Therefore, one can clearly say that Trump’s new year tweet for Pakistan shows its frustration and failures in bringing peace through military means in Afghanistan. For US, it is an easy way out to blame Pakistan and support its adversaries.
Pakistan denied and strongly condemned such response from US on every level. Recently, US Acting Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells arrived in Islamabad and called on Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua. During the meeting, they discussed the situation arising out of US President Trump’s recent tweet and other aspects of Pak-US bilateral cooperation. Pakistan demanded the US to use its influence to stop use of Afghan soil against Pakistan. Ambassador Alice Wells acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts in eradicating terrorism and said that the US wanted to work with Pakistan in furthering the shared objectives of stabilizing Afghanistan. The Foreign Secretary said that the relationship with the United States need to move forward under an environment of mutual trust and respect.
Pakistan has strongly responded to the US statements and want better cordial relations with US. It is pertinent to note that Pakistan is replaced by India as a reliable strategic partner and Indian influence and closeness with US is growing day by day. On the other hand, Pakistan now looks at China as its reliable friend and new strategic dynamics are also on way with Russia. It appears that this new bloc which is Indo-US vs Pak-China has different geo strategic interests in region. India and US both want to undermine China’s strategic and economic development in the region. US has its apprehensions that first it was also an economic giant on the basis of which it gained military might and became superpower. It fears that China is its emerging competitor in different domains so to undercut its hold in South Asian region, it is pursuing relations with India. On the other hand, Pakistan wants peace in the region through Russia, China and other countries but the Indian influence in Afghanistan and creating instability in the region with different tactics and its rivalry with Pakistan do not let healthy relations to be built among countries. CPEC which has become talk of the town is insecuring many countries including US which now apparently measures Pakistan’s future outlook in the wake of CPEC. It does not want this OBOR initiative to endorse China’s dominance in region, therefore directly or indirectly Pakistan is blamed for being part of this project.
In international politics, relations among nations are interest based. Every country is seeing its gains and setbacks in international relations. As a way forward, for better Pak-US relations, US should stop treating Pakistan with same old carrot and stick policy. Pakistan’s stance should be clearly given to US that if they want Pakistan’s assistance in war against terrorism, they should stop blaming Pakistan. Pakistan did a great favour to US and still doing by not claiming about the aerial and cargo charges it provided to US troops. What if Pakistan stop it one day and US had to take the longest route to enter in Afghanistan, only then US will understand the favours Pakistan has given it for more than decade? US should strictly instruct their media to stop maligning Pakistan as their dual face is quite visible. It is time to have ruthless but candid dialogue with US as said by Pakistan’s Defence Minister in an address. Therefore, to compete with international challenges and ground realities Pakistan should strictly put its demands on the table while pursuing dialogue with US.
— The writer works for Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, a think-tank based in Islamabad.