Pakistan-US relationship suffers from mutual mistrust, speakers say

Islamabad, Oct 15, IRNA -- Speakers at a seminar in Pakistan say present Pakistan-US relationship suffers from mutual mistrust and suspicion due to divergent approaches and interests in the region.

They were speaking at a two-day conference on 'Irritants in Pakistan-US Relations: Way Forward' organized by the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) in Islamabad.

Acting President IPRI, Brig (R) Sohail Tirmizi, in his views said Pakistan-US relationship suffers from mutual mistrust and to further put pressure, the US administration has ceased military training for defense personnel and the Collation Support Fund (CSF) for Pakistan, resorted to the use of diplomatically harsh language and exercised its influence in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

‘US disregard of Pakistan’s sensitivities, its legitimate security interests vis-a-vis these states has not helped to bridge the mistrust in their relationship’, he said.

Ambassador Inam-ul-Haq, Former Foreign Minister said that the ‘US has no intention of allowing a challenge to its primacy in the world by any country, including China. It will use all the means at its disposal to remain the undisputed and sole super power of the world. Full spectrum domination is its primary objective.’

He pointed out that foreign policy cannot be based on self-delusion, and false assumptions.

On the issue of recent Pakistan-US meetings, he cautioned, ‘We should note that the discussions have so far been primarily on the end game in Afghanistan. Bilateral relations were not discussed at any length. Bilateral ties will improve only if Pakistan is seen to be helping the US achieve its objectives in Afghanistan.’

Ambassador (R) Shamshad Ahmed, Former Foreign Secretary, gave an overview of Pakistan-US relations and their strengths and weaknesses. He said that for the US, Pakistan is not a ‘lost friend’ because Pakistan’s geopolitical situation is virtually important for peace in South Asia.

‘The time has come for focusing on a state-to-state relationship based on sovereign equality, rather than one which is transactional or based on expediency of personal interests and agendas,’ he said.

Discussing his views on the issue Ambassador (R) Riaz Hussain Khokhar, Former Foreign Secretary remarked that the Pak-US relationship should be evaluated from a dispassionate lens rather than emotionally. ‘We should be frank with the Trump administration about what Pakistan can actually deliver in Afghanistan especially in terms of the Taliban because at the end of the day, Pakistan does not have the kind of influence which is often projected.’

Salma Malik from the Department of Defense and Strategic Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad expounded on the relationship between regional actors, especially India-Pakistan and the role of the US.

Syed Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi, Department of International Relations, University of Peshawar, said that Pakistan has been at the forefront of the war on terror for the US which has had its own severe backlash. ‘Leaving it alone with a few accusations is not the solution to the problem. More economic and financial assistance to Pakistan will contribute to the emergence of a more tolerant society. ‘The US putting Pakistan in the grey list of the FATF will be counterproductive’, he said.

Tughral Yamin Associate Dean, Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad said that relations between the US and Pakistan have deteriorated and been ‘downgraded’ since the US President Donald Trump’s administration began taking a hard line on Afghanistan in 2017.

He was of the view that this is because the US wants a face-saving exit from Afghanistan leaving a stable government in Kabul, and Pakistan also wants a stable and friendly government in Afghanistan, while the Afghan Government just wants to survive at all costs.

Professor Dr Rasul Baksh Rais from the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Lahore discussed the Afghan endgame and Pakistan-US relations and contended that wars cannot be won decisively and it is, thus, important for transfer of security responsibility to the Afghans, focusing on building Afghan forces and continuing negotiations with the Taliban.

Author and journalist Nasim Zehra was of the view that the bolstering and belligerence coming out of Washington is its new language and the new world disease, and is not likely to change any time soon.

According to her, ‘downturn in relations with Pakistan is largely due to the US’ self-serving narrative in Washington to justify its failures in Afghanistan and blaming them on Pakistan.
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