OPINION

PAK-US ties in light of the recent developments!

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Rayees Masroor

Ever since the recent visit of Pakistan Prime Minister to the United States concluded, there is a heated debate going on regarding the future prospects of the relationship between the two countries. A constant challenge for the US-Pakistan relations is the lack of trust between the two nations even though the two countries enjoyed a fairly strong Cold war era partnership.The relationship in more recent years has been beset by tensions that have inhibited trust. Mr Khan’s visit came at a time when the negotiations between the two United States and the Taliban are in an advanced stage and we may well see a US withdrawal from the Afghanistan towards the end of the year.

Pakistan has to play an important role in the ongoing peace talks between the Afghan Taliban and the Americans and Mr Khan knows it very well to use leverage. The meeting between president Trump and PM Khan was held in a very cordial atmosphere and during the briefing to the press Donald Trump minced no words praising Imran Khan, it appeared that the two popular leaders are getting along very well with a closer bonhomie. The meeting was part of a push to mend relations, which have been strained by the Afghan conflict. In Pakistan Prime minister Khan’s US visit has already been termed as a resounding success. Many Analysts believe that there is a convergence of interests Between the US and the Pakistan on the Afghan issue.

It seemed that the Pakistan’s role in the Afghan settlement is getting much more appreciation than before. After imran Khan’s visit Islamabad would try to position itself as a central player in the ongoing peace process. A rather surprising extract that Pakistan is looking to celebrate is the president Trump’s statement in which he expressed his willingness to mediate between India and Pakistan on the issue of Kashmir. Mr Trump referred to his previous conversation with PM Modi in which according  to Mr.Trump, Narendra Modi had requested him to mediate on the issue of Kashmir, the Indian authorities immediately denied any such request made by prime minister Narendra Modi but Pakistan used it as an opportunity to score a diplomatic point. Many experts also believe that the security cooperation and the military to military relations between the Washington and the Islamabad is going to be reinstated in coming months. The suspected military training for Pakistan may also get revived in coming weeks.

At the personal level the two heads of the state seem to be getting along very well. Also for Pakistan the visit is significant because it sends a message that the cash starved country is not isolated at the global level. Mr Khan also needed such a visit to satisfy his domestic constituency.PTI government led by Imran Khan has been facing a lot of backlash domestically amid some severe economic crisis. During the press briefing or the face to face meeting with PM Khan, Donald Trump didn’t made any serious comments against Pakistan on the subject of terrorism which signaled a softer stance of the Trump Administration towards Islamabad. America especially after Donald Trump took over has been accusing Pakistan of aiding and abetting terrorism across the border in Afghanistan. Trump Administration in an unprecedented move suspended the financial and security assistance to Pakistan early in the year and accused Islamabad of harboring terrorists on its soil and doing nothing. During Khan’s visit it seemed that a lot of water has flown and there is a genuine willingness from both the sides to revamp the strained ties and start afresh. On the sidelines of the visit PM Mr. Khan was also able to showcase his popularity when he addressed around 20000 US Pakistanis during his address at a stadium in downtown Washington. The coming few weeks and months are going to be very crucial for the relationship between the two countries. If the developments on the Afghan issue go in a positive direction and US is able to make some peace deal with Taliban by pak mediation the derailed relations between US and Islamabad are certainly going to reboot. Interesting times ahead to watch the developments unfolding.

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