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US-Pak relations: A paradigm shift

By Abdul Rahman Malik,

With the changing geo-strategic Situation and after the Twitter blitz, Donald Trump turns to Pakistan to get rid of Afghan Mess and seeking help from Islamabad to influence the Taliban by bringing them to the negotiating table. The Russia Peace Talks with the participation of the stakeholders along with Insurgent Taliban leadership and Afghanistan Peace Council Delegation held talks in Moscow to reach an agreement but the talks, unfortunately, did not bear any fruit.
US-Pakistan relations have always been overcast with mistrust but this time, the onus has been felt and new terms of engagement have surfaced with New Government of Pakistan. Imran Khan in his exclusive interview With the Washington Post has made it clear that Pakistan is not hired Gun and will not fight anyone’s war.
The Peace in Afghanistan is in favour of Pakistan and welcomed the letter by giving a positive response to Trump’s request. The Foreign Office will draft the reply to the letter and will present to Prime Minister Imran Khan for approval. The analysts and political pundits have termed the development as positive and this time the Trump administration seems to be serious in engagement with Pakistan. The incoming US central command Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie has also said that he will engage with Pakistan on priority basis as directed by the US president to him since the US wants to come in direct talks with the insurgent Taliban and bring them to negotiating table to devise a sharable government plan and the possible amendments in the Afghan Constitution.
With Kartarpur Corridor opening to facilitate the Sikh Pilgrims of India and the recent paradigm shift in US-Pakistan Relations are being termed as watershed moments for both Pakistan and US to work together to bring Normalcy in Afghanistan Since both US and Pakistan has suffered a lot in so-called War on terror and Pakistan has done a lot more than expected as US Ally .
Pakistan facilitated the US by giving her ground, Air and communication channels that played a vital role as a close ally in post 9/11 arena and the US bid for regime change in Afghanistan. Pakistan has laid down unprecedented sacrifices of Civil and Military sacrifices in thousands and what Pakistan is facing today in terms of Economic crisis that is because of being a close ally of US in War on terror and have significantly lost its Investment and Trade opportunities at the helm of America.
Donald Trump’s so-called irresponsible Twitter Tirade against Pakistan blaming that despite paying millions of Rupees in security aid, Pakistan has deceived the US or did not do the damn thing ,has stirred widespread criticism since the World Community is well aware that Pakistan Suffered a lot being a US ally and that is the mistrust that has become the Stalemate between US-Pak relations and the ambiguities that have stalled the diplomatic relations.
With increasing US alignment towards India and signing various trade agreement with Modi Regime ,have also created the sense of disappointment in the circles of Civil and Military leadership of Pakistan that despite making us a scapegoat and used as hired gun –the salt is being rubbed on our wounds by favouring our arch rivals since we have lost our near and dear ones in various terrorist activities infiltrated from Afghanistan and the India patronizing the Separatist movements in the province of Baluchistan.
The Indian spy captured from Baluchistan province, Kalbhushan Yadav, had publically confessed that how Indian Secret Agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) carried out various terrorist activities within Pakistan to bring instability through terrorism.
The US might have been advised by various think-tanks and Influencing bodies of political and diplomatic circles that an ally who fought the war on terror as an important ally of US and still bearing the brunt of Terrorist attacks -be it Army Public School attack, the attacks on various Shrine, Shia-Sunni Sectarian killings patronized by international forces, is left out when it comes the development option or trade relations or when Pakistan needed US support to fix its balance of Payments Issue .
Instead of giving support, US withheld a huge chunk of security aid and even tried to influence the International Monetary Fund (IMF) not to offer any bailout package as the same may be used to repay Chinese loans. Thanks to Saudis and China helping Pakistan to fix the issue of balance payments that alignment towards alternative powers might have prompted the US to change its stance.
Pakistan has always responded in positive gesture and has been overburdened with Afghan Refugees influx caused by US air Strikes on Afghanistan for regime change, Dismantling AlQaida and nabbing the Osama bin Laden.
Pakistan has the majority of Afghan refugees in KPK and Sindh province and often found involved in terrorist links or activities as Pakistan Army and Rangers conducted various anti-terrorism operations under the National Action Plan in FATA and KPK to cleanse the terrorist elements and so far, achieved tremendous success in eradication of Terrorism and restoring peace in the country.
On the other hand, US has always demanded from Pakistan to do more that is really disappointing and hurting. Despite all these odds, Pakistan’s civil and military leadership appears to be on the same page and ready to engage with the US on revised terms of engagement for the sake of peace.
Both Pakistan and the US have suffered losses, now, it is the time that they should serve the common interests of each other.Pakistan can play a key role in the Afghan peace process since this time ,the regional powers of Asia such as Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Turkey and US intend to resolve the issue through dialogue as American have failed in bringing peace despite their presence in Afghanistan and have been waging war for the last 17 years .
This is perhaps one of the longest wars they have fought and apparently, they are losing the ground since the Taliban seem to be much organized and have become a party for talks rather than an insurgent group. They have control of various provinces and possess great influence in its controlled areas.
The Afghan Peace process will never succeed unless all the stakeholders are taken on board especially the Taliban leadership, as prior to the US-led Air strikes, Taliban had full control of all the areas of Afghanistan.
Owing to being a landlocked country, Afghanistan depends on Pakistan for the trade and supplies. The Peace Process may pave the way for Pakistan-Afghanistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) that was bilateral trade agreement signed in 2010 that calls for greater facilitation in the movement of goods between these two countries.
The China Pakistan Economic Corridor is yet another trade route that will benefit Afghanistan if the peace agreement reaches between the Taliban and the Afghan Government.
CPEC is a game changer not only for Pakistan but also for the Central Asian States. The analysts are of the view that CPEC may trigger Hybrid war since it has a very significant geostrategic position that will attract more countries towards it including the OPEC to use the Gawadar Port for transportation of Oil and LPG gas to the South Asian and Central Asian States.
It is imperative that Pakistan and US must work together for regional peace and especially reaching an agreement with the insurgent Taliban leadership so that Peace could be maintained and restored in Afghanistan.
The withdrawal plan for the NATO forces may be chalked out and the refugees’ crisis may be overcome since Pakistan has not been compensated in a real sense despite being overburdened by 1.45 million Afghan Refugees as per recent statistics of UNHCR and UNHCR termed Pakistan as World’s biggest country to host such high number of Refugees.
It is hoped that this change of attitude will benefit both the countries and will improve diplomatic relations and help find out lasting solutions to bring peace in war-torn Afghanistan and repatriation of Afghan refugees.

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