Rescuing the alliance

Despite the periodical stresses and strains in bilateral relations, Pakistan and the United states can not be mutually exclusive in world and regional affairs. The fragile alliance between the two countries survived in the backdrop of President Trump undiplomatic tweet accusing Pakistan of ‘lies’ and ‘deceit’, suspension$ 2 billion security assistance and successful US move of putting it back on FATF grey list.

Foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua, in her weeklong stay in Washington, will hold talks with senior White House and State department officials to rescue the uncertain alliance between the United States and Pakistan in war on terror. The discussion will focus on the current conundrum in bilateral ties and how the two sides could come to a decisive ground on Afghanistan. Foreign secretary visits Washington just days after Lisa Curtis, a senior aide of President Trump, journey to Islamabad in search of common ground in the fight against terrorism and particularly bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan.

After the tough posturing of Pakistani leadership in response to the US pressure tactics, Washington swiftly moved towards damage control measures. A senor aid of the US president visited Islamabad in a  bid to bring down the rising temperature between the two allies. The conciliatory tone and tenor of US administration continues. The Central Command Chief, General Joseph Votel dispelled the impression that US and Pakistan are on a collision course, saying that they valued military-to-military relations with Pakistan. He told a Congressional Panel that the US has preserved military-to- military relationship with Pakistan and attempted to increase transparency and communication with military leaders. He said that achieving long term stability in Afghanistan and defeating insurgency will be difficult without Pakistan’s support. The US commander pointed out that the military had recently seen some positive indications from Pakistan which led to believe that Islamabad is becoming more responsive to US concerns about alleged militants safe heavens.

US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) has released a report which states that Pakistan has made some success in counterinsurgency operation. However the report says that Islamabad is likely to proceed with its counterinsurgency and border management efforts along its western border while sustaining counterterrorism and paramilitary operation throughout the country. In an interview with Voice of America in Kabul, US Acting Secretary of State for South Asia and Central Asia, Alis Wells said that US was not thinking of cutting ties with Pakistan. She also assured Islamabad that US considered Pakistan essential to resolving the Afghan imbroglio.

The statements of the top Commander Joseph Votel and State department officials indicate that US wants the alliance with Pakistan intact. However, the phraseology of preserving military-to military relationship and sustaining counterterrorism and paramilitary operation throughout the country are noteworthy. The civilian leadership has not shown strong determination to carry out an effective clean up operation against the sleeper cells of militants’ outfits in the Southern Punjab and interior Sindh to which an oblique reference is made in DIA report. Ironically, for the leadership of both the main stream political parties the fluid situation of the region is not important. They give more preference to unnecessary confrontation with state institutions which reflect a myopic vision and self serving attitude.