Almost four decades after the first U.S.-Pakistani mission in Afghanistan, Islamabad dangers getting caught in the crosshairs of great-power politics again. Only deft diplomacy will save it.
Islamabad is at the threat of getting caught in the cross hairs of great – power politics again and it can be saved only by smart diplomacy. This is happening almost four decades after the first U.S.-Pakistani mission in Afghanistan.
Next week, at the White House, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and U.S. President Donald Trump are prepared to meet. U.S.-Pakistan ties will be hung in the balance. Pakistan will be playing key role in pushing Afghan Taliban to lessen frontline violence and will be engaging in direct talks to Kabul government and U.S. agenda will be clearly focusing on opposing terrorism. But both of these questions are tough to be answered at this point. Away from it, the politics of the visit will serve as boilerplate: Pakistan should do more to stabilize Afghanistan while also doing more to comply with global money laundering requirements and International Monetary Fund (IMF) benchmarks. Imran khan may be even invited for dinner at the White House if Trump will be in a good mood.
There are some fundamental realities which must be kept in mind by Pakistan’s leaders, behind the feel – good headlines connected with the visit. Hopes matter as little as intentions in international politics. According to America, stabilizing Afghanistan is Pakistan’s only real trump card and Islamabad would want the relationship beyond being seen as a window into a changing Afghanistan with Washington but hopes ……
Zalmay kahlilzad, U.S. agent has been conducting with Afghan Taliban and other Afghans have gone a long way toward breaking down barriers according to peace talks. Still many Afghan Taliban think that violence is a mean of enhancing their negotiating power but the irony is still there it is not lost on anyone. Now Taliban seem to fight and talk once upon a time United States wanted to fight and talk.
An extraordinary efforts made by Pakistan to facilitate delicate negotiations have tardily received some silent appreciation. Although Pakistan has been played influential role in making the talks happen. Listing of Separatist Balochistan Liberation Army as a terrorist group is one of the symbols of that appreciation by the U.S. government as was the IMF’s agreement to lend Pakistan a badly needed $6 billion.
As it is less clear where it will stand in the next few years in relation to United States, so Pakistan will not be returned to the second largest recipient of U.S. aid because a positive development that will help end fundamental clientelism and so the answers to the questions below will also be no – unfortunately no! questions ask: Will the heavy lift in Afghanistan leave its mark? Will the facts on the ground matter?
In the past, even friendly U.S. administrations would demand an explanation from Pakistan every time Kabul or its hinterland was attacked. And it was asked, without fail. Indeed, if future Afghan stability is made reliant on on Pakistan’s alleged good behavior, then there is still a problem.
Islamabad’s apprehensions were ignored by Washington although all kinds of rules were designed to change Pakistan’s behavior. Hesitance of Pakistan in communicating its lack of control of a scandalously porous border with Afghanistan, let alone being lumbered with the responsibility for large swaths of restive Afghan territory while NATO and U.S. forces guarded the rest of the country, triggered a spiral of frustration on both sides. In rare cases when Pakistan openly appealed to the International Security Assistance Force or U.S. partners for their inaction in coping with Islamabad’s own terrorist objectives, such as the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, which had a shelter in southern Afghanistan — the best it received was stony silence, at worst a sharp public rebuke.
The past should be an advisory tale. Every time Pakistan is locked into a world of back-channel diplomacy, where cooperative decisions are often made quietly and secretly, the outcome has been suboptimal. Since Osama bin Laden appeared in Abbottabad’s Pakistani city, Islamabad has persisted on the cautious, systemically incapable of calling on his allies not to secure the end of an often undocumented bargain by Pakistan.
Whenever Pakistan’s military began expensive operations in its own border territories against terrorist redoubts, it remained hanging. U.S. promises to assist more than one million internal refugees, evacuated through joint border area activities, never materialized, nor did the U.S. Reconstruction Opportunity zone, leaving homeless and restive hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis.
Every time there have been shared successes in the field of counter-terrorism — often at great cost in Pakistani military life — they have rarely been mentioned. South Asia’s wiping out of al-Qaeda by 2012, which might otherwise have resurfaced as a threat, was rarely attributed to Pakistan in U.S. announcements until it was requested by Pakistan’s government.
Pakistan’s population absorbed the blowback from counter-terrorism operations from 2008 to 2018, which took the form of remarkable reciprocal explosions and bombings that rocked Pakistan’s cities, villages, schools, hotels, and hospitals. The toll of civilian and military death by a conservative count was above 70,000. As the violence declined, Pakistan was either confused by its U.S. allies or angry with Washington’s lack of recognition.
In 2011, when the friendly fire of the U.S. forces accidentally shot and murdered up to 28 of Pakistan’s troops, the government shut down NATO supply lines that cut through Pakistan to obtain an apology from Washington. Once the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reluctantly made it, vital communications links were restored and U.S. air bases closed. Pakistan was left astonished that it took such a heavy lift to elicit a simple expression of regret as it mourned.