See More on Facebook

Diplomacy, Opinion

Pakistan’s relations with the US are important but their scope is limited

The leaders of the United States and Pakistan are due to meet later this month.


Written by

Updated: July 9, 2019

The prime minister will meet the president of the US on July 22. The Foreign Office will prepare essential briefing materials. Leaders ignore them at their peril. Pakistan-US relations are not good. American arrogance of power and Pakistan’s punching above its weight are to blame. The prime minister will need to convince Trump not to blame Pakistan for US failures in Afghanistan and to assure him that he will do his best to enable the US to exit Afghanistan without loss of credibility. This will require actions more than words.

Pakistan’s relations with the US are important. But their scope is limited. The benefits of a better relationship with the US, while important, are circumscribed by the priority it gives India as the fulcrum of its Indo-Pacific strategy. This will not change.

US concerns about Pakistan relate to Afghanistan, ‘terrorism’ and alleged nuclear unreliability. The US regards Pakistan’s Kashmir policy and nuclear doctrine as destabilising and specifically aimed at its strategic partner, India.

Pakistan’s concerns are essentially that the US has not extended it the respect and sympathy due a sovereign country that has extended it much-needed cooperation. Pakistan is chastised or incentivised to the extent it complies with US dictates. Pakistan cannot agree with the US on everything.

The US sees Afghanistan as a test case. The Afghan peace-facilitating effectiveness of Pakistan will determine the balance of reward and punishment. To transcend this absurd situation, Pakistan must address Afghan suspicions that its Afghanistan policy is India-focused. Afghans see this focus as incompatible with a genuine respect for their independence and sovereignty. Ironically, Afghans accuse Pakistan of the same arrogance Pakistanis attribute to Indians and Americans. Investing in Afghan goodwill is plain commonsense. The blame game is a mug’s game.

The US views Kashmir as an irrelevance in a power-driven world. It sees Kashmiri freedom fighters as ‘terrorists’ similar to Baloch militants. It holds Pakistan responsible for the costs it has incurred and for the sufferings of the people of Kashmir. It regards neither UN resolutions nor nuclear weapons as relevant to a solution. The US also notes China does not support Pakistan on Kashmir. Tibet and Xinjiang ensure that. The US explicitly and China implicitly suggest Pakistan learn to live with the status quo in Kashmir so that the human rights situation there can improve, and the prospects of nuclear conflict recede.

Indian excesses in occupied Kashmir are regularly reported in US and UN human rights reports. But as long as India remains a strategic partner, its relentless repression of the people in Kashmir will not have strategic relevance for the US.

The US knows its policies on a whole range of international issues are legally, morally and strategically untenable. But its only concern is leverage. It uses FATF and the IMF against Pakistan. FATF and its India-led APG are making demands that are impossible to satisfy within the given timelines, and IMF is laying down conditions that are designed not to be met.

The IMF bailout package merely aggravates the debtor and supplicant status of Pakistan. Celebrating the prospect of another $40 billion of foreign debt is the measure of our political and intellectual bankruptcy. Over several regimes and an unchanging power structure Pakistan has followed derelict political, economic, security and diplomatic policies. Policy disasters, however, are never considered reason enough to change them. This syndrome is fatal.

The prime minister will meet an egotistical, insensitive, ignorant, and morally challenged showman POTUS. Interlocutors in Congress, NSA, State, Pentagon, CIA, academia and media, and maybe leading Democratic candidates will be more formidable. They will articulate US and Pakistani criticisms of the prime minister’s policies. The prime minister will need to come across as open to constructive criticism and willing to listen to helpful and sympathetic advice. He does not have any lack of confidence. While his criticisms of errant predecessors are in order, after a year in office, the buck stops with him.

He must candidly state his policy context which comprises Pakistan’s survival and welfare imperatives. He will not compromise them under any circumstances. The US must respect this commitment if it is to contribute to peace and stability in South Asia. The prime minister should caution that a US or Israeli assault on Iran will destroy Pakistan’s security environment including any prospect for peace in Afghanistan. It will unleash a scale of terrorism in the Middle East that will eventually topple every pro-US regime in the region. It will completely destabilise Pakistan-India relations despite glimmers of possible forward movement.

The prime minister may convey the following:

(i) There should be no militant and military activity from either side of the LoC;

(ii) Pakistan cannot accept the status quo in India-held Kashmir. The cause of a problem cannot be its solution;

(iii) Pakistan will reach out to India to develop a comprehensively improved relationship in which a principled Kashmir settlement acceptable to Kashmiri, Pakistani and Indian opinion can be achieved;

(iv) The US must realise that if Indian atrocities in IHK continue and measures to forcibly alter the composition of the Valley population are taken, no Pakistani government can just bear witness to such a crime;

(v) The US, as global leader, has a global humanitarian, political and security obligation to ensure against such dangerous developments;

(vi) Pakistan knows its responsibilities as a nuclear weapons power and the US should deal with it on a non-discriminatory basis, which it has not;

(vii) Supporting India against Pakistan is no recipe for peace;

(viii) Pakistan places the highest priority on developing broad-based cooperation and mutual understanding with the US;

(ix) Pakistan’s strategic relations with China will never be aimed at US interests;

(x) The US should avoid using the IMF, FATF, sanctions, etc as leverage against Pakistan;

(xi) Trump deserves congratulations for his initiatives towards North Korea; and

(xii) An invitation to Trump to visit Pakistan at an early date, and play a critical peace-building role in South Asia in the interests of over a billion and a half people.

is a former ambassador to the US, India and China and head of UN missions in Iraq and Sudan.


Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Dawn
About the Author: Dawn is Pakistan's oldest and most widely read English-language newspaper.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Diplomacy, Opinion

Trump again cites questionable numbers related to Korea trade deal

Trump has used the trade deal to bolster his credentials back home. US President Donald Trump again cited questionable numbers on Tuesday as he touted his administration’s renegotiated free trade agreement with South Korea. Trump told the Economic Club of New York that the revised FTA, which took effect early this year, doubled the number of American cars that can be sold in South Korea under US standards and extended American tariffs on Korean pickup trucks by another 20 years to 2041. He then took a swipe at the previous administration of Barack Obama, which negotiated the original agreement. “The deal from the previous admini


By The Korea Herald
November 13, 2019

Diplomacy, Opinion

Uncertainty persists on US – China trade deal

This despite Trump’s comments that US and China close to trade deal. US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday (Nov 12) that the United States and China are close to a trade deal, but made clear that the prospect of tariffs was still on the table, with a warning that the US would raise tariffs on China if no trade deal was reached. His speech at the Economic Club of New York was closely watched by Wall Street but offered no new details on any signing of a much-touted “Phase One” preliminary trade deal with China. China, said President Trump, was dying to make a deal with their “supply chains cracking very badly” almost two years into the trade war. “We’re the ones deciding whether or not we want t


By The Straits Times
November 13, 2019

Diplomacy, Opinion

India should have signed up for RCEP

India has decided to put a halt on its joining the largest planned free trade area. Had India not pulled out at the last minute from signing the deal during the 3rd summit of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in Bangkok on November 4, the RCEP would have been the largest free trade area in the world so far—comprising of 16 Asia Pacific countries that house 3.4 billion people, and constituting one-third of the global gross domestic product (GDP) and 40 percent of global trade. Ten member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) along with Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea fo


By The Kathmandu Post
November 13, 2019

Diplomacy, Opinion

Ayodhya verdict is silent on why Muslims must prove exclusive possession of site

The Indian court has deprived Muslims of the disputed plot because they couldn’t show exclusive possession before 1857. On page 215 of the Ayodhya-Babri Masjid verdict, delivered by a five-judge bench on Saturday, the Supreme Court makes a crucial statement of logic: “It is true that in matters of faith and belief, the absence of evidence may not be evidence of absence.” But in its final findings, the court contradicted this same logic. The crux of the judgment that India has awaited since 1949 is that Muslims failed to show unimpeded possession of the disputed site in Ayodhya between 1528, when the mosque was supposedly built by Mughal emperor Babur, and 1857, when, after a clash between Muslims and Hindus, a railing was erected between the inner and outer courtyards at the disputed site. The inner courtyard is where the mosque demolished by Hindutva mobs in 1992 stood. The outer courtyard has se


By Dawn
November 12, 2019

Diplomacy, Opinion

Myanmar sued for genocide

On behalf of OIC, Gambia files the case at Int’l Court of Justice seeking orders to stop atrocities on Rohingyas immediately.  The Gambia has filed a case at the United Nations’ top court, accusing Myanmar of committing genocide against its Rohingya Muslim minority, more than two years after some 750,000 Rohingyas fled a military crackdown in the Rakhine State. “We have just submitted our application to the ICJ under the Genocide Convention,” Gambian Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou said at a news conference yesterday in The Hague, where the court is based. “The aim is to get Myanmar to account for its action against its own people: the Rohingya. It is a shame for our generation that we do nothing while genocide is unfolding right under our own eyes,” he said. The International Court of Justice (ICJ), also known as the World Court, is the U


By Daily Star
November 12, 2019

Diplomacy, Opinion

HK must hold the line, uphold democracy in elections

An editorial in China’s State Run Media. “Deliberate violence”, said the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, “is more to be quenched than a fire.” Although Hong Kong elections have traditionally been relatively peaceful affairs, this has now changed. After the anti-extradition protests morphed into urban guerrilla warfare, every institution is now at risk. A culture of violence has now taken hold, buttressed by a willingness to use crude intimidation of others, whether in politics, the universities, or on the streets. The latest victim of this phenomenon is legislator Junius Ho Kwan-yiu. Out campaigning for a District Council seat in Tuen Mun, he was stabbed in the chest by a stranger. The crime was obviously pre-meditated, and the suspected offender will hopefully be charged with attempted murder. Shortly before the attack, Ho’s local office had been hit by fire bom


By China Daily
November 11, 2019