US-Pakistani relations appear to be on the right track, and it is not clear how that will happen, but both sides are eager to move forward after a decade of bickering that has put the relationship at its worst point since its inception.
During the past two decades, the relationship between Washington and Islamabad was drawing its strength from the war in Afghanistan, and Pakistan was providing the US army with logistical and intelligence support, and Pakistan was receiving generous US aid in exchange for that, but Washington’s failure in Afghanistan made Pakistani assistance in the wind, as Pakistan suffered Negative reaction from this war, and Washington’s aid became insignificant.
Pakistan’s successful efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table have become insignificant, given that the agreement of President Donald Trump’s administration was wrong, and made the Taliban win the political battle without a military victory. The joy of former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan at the victory of the “Taliban” and the criticism of US policies in the American media contributed to adding more humiliation to the harm done to the United States, which sparked violent reactions in Washington. Congressional Republicans vented their anger by blaming Pakistan, which gives the Taliban a safe haven, and threatening sanctions against Islamabad.
However, in a session of Congress in September 2021, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Washington would “look not at the role that Pakistan has played over the past two decades, but at the role we want it to play in the years ahead.”
Reimagine the relationship
With the Afghanistan war in the past and Khan no longer in power, the United States and Pakistan decided to find new meaning in their relationship. During the seven decades of relations between the two countries, and despite the bumps that marred this relationship, the two countries always returned to each other.
The United States and Pakistan now understand that if they want to revive their relationship, it must be lasting, mutually beneficial, and supported by all. The incentive to revitalize the relationship came from both sides, although the initiative came from Washington, which is now focusing on Pakistan after it ended the Afghanistan war.
Think back to Pakistan
Pakistan is rethinking this relationship, especially among the ruling elite, because the economic difficulties and challenges, the internal instability, and the external threats facing Pakistan require good relations with Washington, but the US-Pakistani relations are no longer based on the model of the relationship between the two sides in the period between 1954 And 1965, when Washington sought to strengthen Pakistan’s defense capabilities for its benefit, as well as its economic development.
But since that period, Pakistan is no longer the important country for Washington, but rather its services, as Islamabad allowed Washington to manipulate the unbalanced power and structural weakness of its elite-dependent system, and it became an external pillar to maintain order, and thus a kind of dependence of the two countries on each other developed. This served the wrong policies of the two parties, which opened the door for each party to blame the other for its failures, and further complicated the relationship between the two countries.
the broader context
Despite Pakistan’s desire to expand the scope of the relationship, America’s priorities remain limited and focus on China and Afghanistan, although Washington can pursue these priorities, but in a broader context. The United States does not have any important economic interests with Pakistan, but its economic relationship with it is important in order to achieve its goals in the region. Many areas of potential cooperation are being discussed, including energy technology, agriculture and artificial intelligence. Washington wants to provide assistance in the field of health care and education, as a stable Pakistan in terms of security, economy and politics may be essential to achieving Washington’s security and strategic goals in the region.
In fact, Pakistan’s desire for better relations with Washington and India coincides with the broad goals of America in South Asia, but Washington is now more interested in stability, because this is in the interest of its strategy in the Indian and Pacific oceans.
Washington’s public relations efforts
Washington understands that if it wants to restore good relations with Pakistan, it must accept the widespread hostility of America in Pakistan, and that is why America must immediately focus on actions that are in the great interest of the Pakistani people, such as the much-publicized flood relief and reconstruction aid. Through its statements and actions, the US gives the impression that it is not returning to Pakistan to carry out its agenda of buying elite friendships. For a while, Pakistan became a victim of terrorism and a partner in the war against terrorist groups, which were encouraged by the return of the Taliban.
Pakistan suffered 1,007 terrorist attacks in 2022, most of which were carried out by the “Taliban Pakistan” and “ISIS Khorasan”. In a press conference in December, State Department spokesman Ned Price said, “We have engaged our Pakistani friends to help them respond to these challenges.” He added, “We seek a strong partnership with Pakistan to confront terrorism, and we expect continued action against all terrorist groups.”
And Washington is taking popular steps. The $1.7 trillion inclusive spending package includes $200 million to promote gender equality in Pakistan, a 20-fold increase from what it was in 2020.
In fact, the relationship between Pakistan and the United States serves many American interests, but the focus of this relationship may not be talked about. Is this relationship the missing part of America’s strategy in the Indian and Pacific oceans?
Tougher Hussain is a former Pakistani ambassador and diplomatic advisor to the prime minister
The United States and Pakistan now understand that if they are to revive their relationship, it must be lasting, mutually beneficial, and supported by all.
Pakistan’s successful efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table have become inconsequential, given that the agreement of President Donald Trump’s administration was wrong, and made the Taliban win the political battle without a military victory.
Washington cannot ignore Islamabad
Relations between India and Pakistan are characterized by complexity and excessive sensitivity, so various countries, especially the major ones, need a great deal of wisdom and tact in dealing with them.
It is noticeable that the administration of US President Joe Biden focused mainly on raising the level of relations between the United States and India in its dealings in South Asia. For example, the administration sent Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to meet Indian leaders in New Delhi.
Even as the Biden administration sought to improve its relations with India, it largely ignored the other large, nuclear-armed country in South Asia, Pakistan. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ignored Pakistan on his recent visit to the region, as did John Kerry, the US climate envoy.
President Joe Biden did not even speak to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, while Pakistani and US National Security Advisers Moayed Yusuf and Jack Sullivan met in Geneva earlier last year.
Paul Kapoor, a professor in the Department of National Security Affairs at the US Naval Postgraduate School, said in a report published by Bloomberg News, that it is logical for the Biden administration to prioritize relations with India over its relationship with Pakistan, despite the apparent partnership between the United States and Pakistan over the years. In the past 20 years in the global war on terror, relations between the two countries have deteriorated greatly during that war.
Pakistan has mostly pursued an approach that runs counter to the purposes of the United States, characterized by supporting the Taliban and related groups, and undermining the coalition’s efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. On the other hand, the United States and India have forged a close partnership, with India becoming the focus of US efforts to counterbalance China’s growing power in the Indo-Pacific region.
Nevertheless, Pakistan remains a regional power to be reckoned with, with a significant nuclear weapons capability, a long-standing security rivalry with India, a close relationship with China, and significant influence in Afghanistan. Lack of communication with Pakistan reduces the ability of the United States to understand Pakistan’s position and the possibility of influencing its actions in these important areas. Kapoor, who also works on the policy planning team at the US State Department, believes that, therefore, the Biden administration should not continue to ignore Pakistan, but it must, in its efforts to achieve a better balance, not over-correct its approach, and not go too far in the path of state cooperation. united with Pakistan.