Pakistan and the US have shared a topsy–turvy terrain of bilateral relations. From calling Pakistan a non-NATO ally to blaming rather accusing Pakistan for restlessness in Afghanistan, US administration kept on changing narratives. Pakistan has always tried her best to mend the ties with US, but US has always patted India’s back and has always given India a priority over Pakistan. Amid Pakistan’s yearning for peace and her vital role in US’ war on terror, Pakistan has never been appreciated much. She has never received her due share of acknowledgement but has always been bashed by the Trump administration. However, Pakistan’s facilitating role in US’ sponsored Afghan peace talks appears to be a ray of hope towards improving the Pak-US bilateral ties. Moreover, the visits of Zalmay Khalilzaad – US’ Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation – and Lindsay Graham -US Senator-, further signal betterment in the Pak-US relations. Lindsay Graham played an important role in arranging IK-Trump meeting as well.
“In my opinion he and his government represent the best opportunity in decades to have a beneficial strategic relationship the US. This will help us secure Afghanistan and the region long-term. Tremendous business opportunities exist between Pakistan and the US through a free trade agreement tied to our mutual security interests. It’s also our best chance in decades to reset the relationship between the US and Pakistan” (US Senator Lindsay Graham)
Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan’s maiden visit to US seems to be a step toward progressive bilateral relations between two historically associated states. PM Khan has been accompanied by COAS Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, and Gen. Faiz Hameed a newly-appointed head of the spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Imran Khan has gone for a three day visit, where he is to meet US President Donald Trump on 22nd July and is to discuss matter of utmost importance i.e. Afghan issue, the increasing military tension between Iran and US, US-China trade war and its effects on CPEC, etc.
While talking about the epicenter of Pak-US talks to Anadolu Agency , Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, a professor of International Relations at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad, said, “The focus of the talks would be mainly on Afghanistan, anti-militancy cooperation, and economic and trade relations. Kashmir and relations with India will also dominate the agenda,” he further added, “Things will be a bit different this time because the civilian and the military leadership are on the same page. I believe that this visit will reduce mistrust between the two sides caused by a series of events, mainly the difference of interests in Afghanistan. Pakistan has better chances to once again exploit its strategic position and influence with regard to the resolution of the Afghan conflict.” On the other hand, Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia Program at The Wilson Center said, “One of the big storylines going into the Trump-Khan meeting is the sharp disconnect in expectations. Pakistan wants to use the meeting as an opportunity to reset and broaden the relationship. The US has a more narrowly defined goal of securing more assistance from Pakistan for the Afghanistan peace process.”
This tour appears to be a golden opportunity for both US and Pakistan to mend their ties. It is expected that owing to this tour a new thaw would be seen in Pak-US relations.
There are several possibilities pertaining to the agendas to be discussed in the white house between the PM of Pakistan and President of US. It is hoped that this Khan-Trump meeting yield a positive result for both countries. Senator Lindsay Graham also met PM Imran Khan and tweeted, “Great meeting with the PM of Pakistan, Imran Khan.In my opinion he and his government represent the best opportunity in decades to have a beneficial strategic relationship the US. This will help us secure Afghanistan and the region long-term. Tremendous business opportunities exist between Pakistan and the US through a free trade agreement tied to our mutual security interests. It’s also our best chance in decades to reset the relationship between the US and Pakistan.”He concluded as, “Hoping for a great meeting between President DonaldTrump and PM Khan today.”
Therefore, this tour appears to be a golden opportunity for both US and Pakistan to mend their ties. It is expected that owing to this tour a new thaw would be seen in Pak-US relations. Pak-US strong relations may also positively impact the Afghan peace process and might lessen Pakistan’s woes. Pakistan may also help US to neutralize her relations with Iran and to avoid US-Iran conflict. Pakistan and US both have stakes in this region so, a strong bond may help these states to achieve a shared goal. A strengthened relation with US is an imperative element for the progress of Pakistan for US dominates most of the international organizations and institutions.
Written by: Merwah Hamid Qureshi