After the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, the next step for the United States would be how to maintain ties with Pakistan. The recent statements by US authorities and Pakistani leaders suggest that the relations may not be heading in the ideal direction.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently stated that US will reassess its relationship with Pakistan in the coming weeks to formulate what role Washington will play in the future of Pakistan. The top US diplomat raised accusations against Pakistan for having a ‘multiplicity of interests’ conflicting with them particularly on counter-terrorism cooperation. The US has also expressed displeasure over Pakistan’s role in the last twenty years and wants to revisit its relationship in the coming years.
The US and Western countries are in a difficult balancing act in the aftermath of Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan. Rather than accepting the reality and engaging with the new regime, it has placed millions of Afghans in a limbo leading to a humanitarian disaster. It has now resorted to blaming Pakistan over its follies and raising accusations of supporting the Taliban.
Prime Minister Imran Khan responded to Blinken’s remarks calling them ‘ignorant’. For him, the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 was disastrous for Pakistan, as thousands of people lost their lives and the economy suffered. He said Pakistan was dragged in the war and became an ally, leading to terrorism by militants groups and drone strikes by the US on Pakistani soil. He said Pakistan endured a ‘terrible’ relationship with US and was seeking a more pragmatic approach.
PM Imran Khan has previously criticized US involvement in Afghanistan, claiming that if he was the leader during 9/11, Pakistan would never have been part of the war. He is certainly not in the good books of President Biden who has not called him ever since taking office. But Imran Khan has no qualms over it, saying the US President might be busy and both countries have a multi-dimensional relationship.
US-Pakistan relations could change drastically after end of the Afghan war. However, the US will soon realize that Pakistan cannot be isolated as it plays a crucial role in Afghanistan and regional peace. It is therefore imperative that both countries should move ahead and maintain cordial relations which are not detrimental to their interests.