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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Where are Pak-US bilateral relations heading

The United States established diplomatic relations with Pakistan following the country's independence in 1947. We work closely with Pakistan on a wide array of issues ranging from energy, trade and investment, health, clean energy and combating the climate crisis, to Afghanistan stabilization and counterterrorism.

Derek Chollet, a senior adviser to the US Secretary of State, has said that the US is not asking Pakistan to choose between US and China, but wants countries “to be able to have a choice”. However, according to him, Washington is concerned that countries entering into mutual relations with China are not going to end up well.

In an exclusive interview with a Pakistani newspaper in Washington, he said, “what we want to focus on is the direction in which the US-Pakistan relationship is going, reflecting on all that what we have achieved in 75 years but also all that we have to achieve in the next 75 years.”

Read more: How Russia-India relations are reshaping the Pak-US relations?

The history of Pakistan-US relations is full of ups and downs

The close relationship between the US and Pakistan started when Pakistan formally joined the US-sponsored defense pacts SEATO and CENTO in 1954 & 1955. Pakistan was disappointed over the military help provided to India after the 1962 Sino-India war as well as equal treatment by the US and Britain on the occasion of the Indo-Pak war of 1965. Pakistan became an ally to the US when the former Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and the US wanted to settle its score with the USSR.

After the withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Afghanistan, Pakistan was left behind to face the consequences of the civil war in Afghanistan. In the wake of 9/11, Pakistan once again became the partner of the US in the war against terrorism and President General Musharraf became a good friend of US President Bush. Now, Pakistan does not want to repeat the story of cleaning the mess created by the US in Afghanistan and bear the consequences.

It is a basic principle of international relations that mutual relations between countries are always established based on self-interests and benefits. The clapping of both hands plays an equal role. If one hand does not participate enthusiastically, there will be no clapping.  The mutual relations between Pakistan and the United States are not an exception to this, but they have always been built based on interests and have revolved around the country’s benefits. In the future, both countries will move forward keeping their interests in mind.

India has never looked favorably on the close relations between Pakistan and the US and in the current situation; when India’s interests have been damaged to some extent as a result of the establishment of the Taliban government in Afghanistan, India would never want a good relationship between Pakistan and the US. Whereas, the most important thing is that Pakistan is now trying to work with the countries of South Asia, especially Afghanistan. Therefore, Pakistan is not in a hurry to formally recognize the Taliban government of Afghanistan but prefers a regional approach to adopt a common policy with China, Russia, Iran, and the Central Asian states so stability in the region can be achieved.

Read more: Pak-USA trade surged by 54% in first 10 months of FY2022: SBP

The American adviser has also said in his recent interview that the Biden administration has already announced 30 million dollars in aid to deal with the current flood situation in Pakistan and is ready to provide more assistance. It will also work with the United Nations to raise $160 million. US diplomat Derek Chollet said that the United States is concerned about China globally.

China is playing a role in South Asia and East Asia, Southeast Asia, and across the world which is not following US interests in many respects. This is a concern for a country like Pakistan, which is a close friend of China, especially when Pakistan neither wants to offend the US nor go against the interests of a friend like China at all. The China factor is an important issue in the resetting of close relations between Pakistan and the United States. The mutual competition and conflict between the United States and China is an undeniable fact of global politics.

Pakistan does not want to become a victim of the enmity of major powers while the current situation of Pakistan can rightly be described as “caught in the crossfire of global geopolitics”. Of course, the success of Pakistan is that there is no confrontation between America and China. If we look at the history of mutual relations between Pakistan and America, it is known that the two countries have been close to each other, but there has also been a lack of mutual trust.

Read more: Will Pak-US relations ever revive its lost glow?

In my opinion, there has been a close relationship between the two countries at the government level and both the countries have ensured the achievement of their state interests keeping in mind their short-term and long-term objectives. However, the US does not have a positive image among the Pakistani masses, while the upper class of Pakistani society is inclined toward America based on various reasons. In these circumstances, the US and Pakistani policymakers should address real concerns and remove irritants if they want to retain a sustained and long-lasting bilateral relationship between them.


Dr. Tahir Ashraf writes extensively on global politics and holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He is an Associate Professor of International Relations at Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan, Pakistan, and can be accessed at tahirmian1@bzu.edu.pk. 

The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.