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Pak-US ties

Dr. Jamil Ahmed Khan


The writer is a former ambassador, senior analyst and international affairs expert.

After the complete withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan, US-Pakistan relations have come full circle. The recent visit of US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman has proved clear tensions between the two countries. For the first time in history, the US Deputy Secretary of State received a cold reception upon her arrival in Islamabad and was welcomed by a mid-level diplomat, instead of her counterpart.

According to diplomatic etiquette in the world, everything is done on the basis of equality, but Pakistan has deviated from diplomatic procedures many times and has given huge protocols to US and other foreign dignitaries during their visit to Pakistan. However, this time all changed that clearly indicates the differences.

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman wanted to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan during her visit, but due to the recent tensions between the two countries, the meeting could not be arranged. During Sherman’s visit, Afghan dispute overshadows desire for broad-based US-Pakistan ties.

Both the United States and Pakistan remain focused on Afghanistan and terrorism. The US diplomat reaffirmed its commitment to work with Pakistan to eradicate terrorism.  During the meetings, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and COAS General Qamar Bajwa emphasized the need for constructive dialogue and expressed their desire for reviving a broad-based relationship.

Before coming to Pakistan, Sherman in Mumbai had made it very clear that the US was not interested in a broad relationship with Pakistan, beyond Afghanistan. “It’s for a very specific and narrow purpose, we don’t see ourselves building a broad relationship with Pakistan,” she had said.

Wendy Sherman’s visit to India indicates the strengthening of the Quad, a recently formed group that includes India, the US, Japan and Australia as members and is perceived to be an alliance against China in the region. During Sherman’s meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, both personalities agreed to further strengthen the military alliance in the Indo-Pacific.

However, the US official, during Pakistan visit, only focused on terrorism and said that the United States wants terrorism to be curbed and there should be no terror activities anywhere, including the US , Pakistan and Afghanistan. At the end of the visit, the US Deputy Secretary of State also mentioned the economy, clean energy and other issues at the insistence of the media.

Wendy Sherman said that after the Taliban took power in Afghanistan, “We have to keep a close eye on the Taliban so that they do not violate human rights, women’s and minorities’ rights and no terrorist group could flourish again”.

This visit suggests that maintaining warm relationship with the United States in future is not only difficult, but rather impossible. The United States can work with international financial institutions to destabilize Pakistan economically and create hurdles in the future.