Change of American strategy on Pakistan

January 6, 2019

The U.S. President Donald Trump has recently said that he “looks forward to meeting the new leadership in Pakistan” amidst repetition of the allegation against Pakistan being duplicitous in its dealings with America. Welcoming the U.S. President Donald Trump’s remarks on ties with Pakistan, the FO spokesman said the government is keenly waiting for the engagement at the highest level. Notwithstanding the accusation of housing the enemy, Dr. Faisal looked on the bright side and said: “President Trump’s remarks are indeed a departure from his tweet of January 1, 2018.”  Since the January 2018 invective by the U.S. President Donald Trump that Pakistan has given the US only “lies and deceit,” relations between the two countries have continued to get worse. The $255 million US military aid was suspended, the FATF was pressurized into declaring Pakistan grey and the US threatened to prevent the IMF from lending to Islamabad. In spite of all this, dialogues between the two countries continued through both diplomatic and military channels, indicative of a need felt by both for each other. In the meantime regardless of the tense relations the volume of bilateral trade between the two touched new heights. Donald Trump’s latest comments at a cabinet meeting were couched in a more courteous language. These must not nevertheless lead anyone to have unrealistic expectations as the essence of the message remains unchanged. The US wants to have good relations with Pakistan on condition that Islamabad is prepared to do more that is to say refuse to host the networks antagonistic to the US and its friends and allies. Even with maintaining a thin covering of courtesy Donald Trump has shown his teeth by reminding Pakistan that he had ended the $1.3 billion payment being made to it. There is a deep seated distrust between the two countries that has to be addressed before there can be any real understanding between them. The US looks at the Afghan issue through the prism of Donald Trump’s Asia policy where India, on the warpath with Pakistan, plays a central role. While the U.S. is unwilling to coax India into resolving its differences with Pakistan, it pressurizes Islamabad to fight the Afghan Taliban and also take effective measures against Kashmir specific networks. As long as the issue of lack of trust exists between the two countries, there is little likelihood of the two sides reaching a genuine understanding. It will be a thoughtless approach on the part of Pakistan to expect that issues between Pakistan and US can be resolved if Donald Trump recognizes Islamabad’s significance.

 

Till the time Donald Trump’s Asia policy undergoes a change the widening trust deficit between Washington and Islamabad will continue to linger on.

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