The last week saw a crucial epoch in the recent history of US-Pakistan relations when the incumbent Prime Minister Imran Khan flew from Pakistan on a three-day visit to the US. These three days supposedly marked the renewal of the significant US-Pakistan relations between two uneasy allies, whose friendship has seen many highs and lows since the War on Terror in 2001.
With War on Terror naturally comes on mind Afghanistan, the country known usually for its traditional hospitality for the guests could be rivaled only with its obstinate resistance to the foreign invasions. At least history suggests that too, that Afghanistan never yielded to any foreign aggression. This fact was well understood by the Pakistani PM years before his ascension to this important post. He only reiterated his old belief during this visit to the US.
The US Administration has since long realized that Pakistan’s role in Afghan peace solution is vital. The US has also realized the futility of a long war that is as tedious as it is fruitless, and which is leading nowhere after two decades. For with every year, more calamitous and sanguinary than the previous one, the military solution that NATO sought only contributed to the Afghan crisis.
On PM Imran Khan’s visit, the US President Trump and his administration undoubtedly made it even more important by a special reception and attention which was conspicuous by its absence in the preceding visits by former PMs of Pakistan. Perhaps the occasion was rendered more significant due to the personal aura of the visiting PM, or perhaps the reason that the US needs Pakistan more than before in concluding Afghan war that has been lingering on undiminished.
Probably that was the reason too that prompted President Trump to utter from nowhere his support for Kashmir, which has been an unfinished business between Pakistan and India since the inception of both in 1947. The Kashmir issue which has overshadowed any prospects of peace between these two countries was almost a forsaken cause on the part of the US, which had espoused it in the preceding decades. The Kashmir dispute that was almost a lost cause, was finally stirred into life by the US President, who suggested he could extend a helping hand.
However, on face value, Trump’s offer, in the wake of US-Pakistan relations, to mediate on Kashmir seems more like the bait to Pakistan. Perhaps the underlying objective is to push Pakistan to “do more”, on the Afghan issue where a long-sought peace accord between Taliban and the Afghan government has been pending. It seems that the pressing demands by the US are meant for providing some relief to the remaining troops in Afghanistan, and also as a face-saving measure back home in a bid to justify the initiation of the war in the first place.
One optimistic aspect, however, is that finally the world in general and the US, in particular, have realized that violence breeds violence, and war produces chaos, and not peace; and also that Afghanistan is the graveyard of superpowers.
Despite the US interests in the Af-Pak region or the changing priorities in the face of changing global scenarios, there is an undeniable fact that peace is the solution to every crisis that emanates from war. In Afghanistan case, or in any other case for that matter, political solution is the most likely candidate to win this war. Regardless of the US bartering one political solution (that of Afghanistan) with another (Kashmir issue) that might be, or might be not, a bait for Pakistan to “do more” and fast, but it should not derail Pakistan’s foreign policy. For even if President Trump’s statement is a habitual slip of the tongue, or the flow of emotion for the visiting PM Imran Khan to whom he wished to return the favor, the US-Pakistan relations have ushered in a new beginning, where peace in Afghanistan is essential for both.
But Pakistani administration- whose political face is PM Imran Khan, while the military chief Bajwa being the actual face- should make it the principal objective of its foreign policy to facilitate measures in a bid to ensure Afghan peace, the sooner the better. If not for the US, then for its own sake, as Pakistan needs a friendly and peaceful “state of affairs” on its western borders, to ensure peace in its own country.
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