News Analysis |
Pakistan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, arrived in Washington on Saturday night for a day-long stay before departing for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session to be held in New York. The FM will also meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington. During his day-long stay in DC, the FM has arranged to visit Pakistan’s Embassy in Washington where he is expected to members of the business community as well as journalists on Sunday.
The foreign minister will then leave for New York to attend the UN General Assembly’s 73rd session — that started on September 18 — on Monday, where he would be heading the Pakistani delegation. The foreign minister will present Pakistan’s viewpoint on global issues and highlight the atrocities India is committing against Kashmiris. Additionally, Shah Mahmood is also supposed to meet his American counterpart, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, during his official trip to the United States.
Pakistan has its own problems with the US presence in Afghanistan. A hostile Afghanistan is the main foundation of the “two-front war” dilemma Islamabad faces since its independence.
The top-level meeting with Pompeo is among the main focus of Qureshi’s week-long visit to the US and is intended to bolster the gains achieved in the former’s visit to Islamabad earlier this month. Both the USA and Pakistan seek a “reset” in ties especially after deterioration that occurred after Trump came to power in the USA. The new engagement started with a telephone call between Pompeo and the newly elected Prime Minister Imran Khan which was followed by Pompeo’s visit to Islamabad in early September.
Most of the Pak-US tensions arise from a single source namely India. While Afghanistan figures heavily in statements revolving around Pak-US relations, it is the Indian shadow behind that which is a source of tensions Pakistan’s initiative to open up a dialogue with India, which was dashed by New Delhi’s backtracking, is actually a part of the recent attempts for reset between the US and Pakistan. Washington has always called for an engagement between Pakistan and India in the hopes of stability that largely pays off for the US.
However, the US perception of an Indo-Pak rapprochement largely centers on Pakistan accepting Indian supremacy and its worldview. According to the relevant Pakistani officials and analysts, the US policy for the South Asian region has become a “hostage” to India’s strategic mindset and ambitions. Ever since the rise of China, the US has tried to cultivate India as a counterweight to Beijing and for that purpose, it has tried to appease New Delhi by agreeing to its demands. This approach has cost the US the means to have balanced relations with both sides.
This has led to the US both ignoring the colossal human right violations occurring in Indian Occupied Kashmir as well as Pakistani concerns. Pakistan has stressed the resolution of the Kashmir issue as the main root of peace in the subcontinent as well as the hegemonic desires of India as a stumbling block to peace. The recent inability of Pakistan and India to mend fences stem from New Delhi’s political machinations. New Delhi believes that if it engages Pakistan in a positive manner it will help Islamabad gain credence in the eyes of the world.
Captured Indian intelligence operative Kulbhushan Yadav has identified Indian consulates in Afghanistan as financial conduits for terrorist working inside Pakistan. In the end, if both Shah Mahmood and Pompeo are to have a worthwhile interaction it is necessary for the US to recognize the concerns of Islamabad with respect to India’s role in the region.
The recent closeness of Pakistan to Russia as well as the lucrative 10 bn $ Saudi investment in CPEC is a problem for India which desires a weak isolated western neighbor. Therefore, India always shuns engagement as a means to keep both the US and Pakistan on the backfoot. Afghanistan is a more recent spoiler in Pak-US ties, though it has figured since the 1980s during the Soviet-Afghan war. The more recent downturn arises from the inability of the US to pacify the Taliban insurgency.
Instead of looking at the shortcomings of its own strategy such as an ineffective Afghan government as well as lack of focus due to the Iraq misadventure, it blames “safe havens” inside Pakistani territory as well as tacit ISI support. Pakistan has its own problems with the US presence in Afghanistan. A hostile Afghanistan is the main foundation of the “two-front war” dilemma Islamabad faces since its independence. In addition, it has been a major base for terror groups operating inside Pakistan.
Only yesterday, 7 soldiers including a Captain were killed while engaging a group of terrorists who had infiltrated Pakistan from Afghanistan. The US has continuously ignored Pakistani evidence of Afghan-based terrorism while agreeing with Indian and Afghan versions of “Pakistan based terror groups”. In fact, much of the evidence was actually procured with American help. A top-level Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Latif Masud was captured by U.S. forces in a military operation.
Latif was arrested in northeastern Afghanistan, in a US Army raid when he was returning back after having conducive talks with Afghan government officials. It emerged that the TTP positioned Latif to work between the Afghan government and itself. Pakistan has long demanded that Afghanistan hand over militants operating in its territory, and the issue is a major source of tension between Islamabad and Kabul. Also, many TTP leaders have been killed by US drone strikes inside Afghanistan.
Pakistan views India to be behind the Afghan government’s recent belligerence and its use of terrorist proxies. Captured Indian intelligence operative Kulbhushan Yadav has identified Indian consulates in Afghanistan as financial conduits for terrorist working inside Pakistan. In the end, if both Shah Mahmood and Pompeo are to have a worthwhile interaction it is necessary for the US to recognize the concerns of Islamabad with respect to India’s role in the region. Only by listening to each other can the two former Cold War allies hope to regain the relationship they once had.