“Pakistan-US Paradox”

Status of sole super power gives the United States (US) a unique advantage of being the neighbor of every nation in the world. This exclusiveness has both positive as well as negative inferences. States around the world expect the US to solve the existing problems the world faces and once people don’t see this happening, it earns bad name to none other than the US. The US, after the collapse of the former USSR, in the guise of “New World Order” claimed to solve the problems in the world without discrimination. This in fact was the huge responsibility on its part if it had been so but the lingering unresolved issues coupled with empirical data suggesting, it failed in resolving third world countries’ problems using its political clout both in the UN and other international organizations.

In the post-cold war era, Pakistan being not an exception to this paradox coupled with having its long though fluctuated relationship with the US, had brought many optimistic people together in claiming and rather informing the rank and file that there is change in offing and situation whether it is economic, political or security would improve. But unfortunately, Pak-US relationship is still looking for fresh oxygen to survive. In fact, South Asia has become a region where balance-of-power, under influence of sole superpower, i.e., the US, recently has started favouring India, which has been busy trying to isolate Pakistan for quite some time now. Pakistan is often described in Washington as a “double-dealing” and “duplicitous ally.” Pakistani analysts describe their country’s relationship with the US as “unequal” and “humiliating.” The American-Pakistani relations have never been insulated from regional and international developments, even in ordinary yester-times. The problem with the US is that it has a long wish/shopping list vis-à-vis Pakistan and being clever enough it blames all wrong-doings or failures on Pakistan. The US has been demanding from Pakistan all kind of support. The prevailing senior-junior or master-client syndrome has to end. People of Pakistan want the real manifestation of the words, which President Obama after his coming to power in 2008 had categorically said, “In the past, we [US] too often defined our relationship with Pakistan narrowly. Those days are over…The Pakistani people must know America will remain a strong supporter of Pakistan’s security and prosperity.”

There is one fundamental problem behind US-Pakistan troubles. Instead of a broad partnership that includes trade and cultural linkages, the two countries have a one-dimensional transactional relationship centered along security concerns, i.e., the war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda and this is true as there is convergence of the strategic interests of the two countries in four broad areas. The first is the issue of terrorism. The restoration of durable peace and stability in Afghanistan is another area where the two countries can cooperate with each other to their mutual advantage. Thirdly, Washington has an enduring interest in the political stability and economic viability of Pakistan, which is a nuclear power and enjoys a strategic location at the crossroads of South Asia, West Asia and Central Asia. Finally, the US, like Pakistan has an abiding interest in peace and stability in South Asia where two nuclear powers other being India are often in a state of confrontation due to Indian arrogance under Modi lately.

Cameron Munter, who was US ambassador to Pakistan, in one of his interviews has given a realistic and pragmatic way forward to both Pakistan and the US in saying that the Pakistanis are interested in furthering strategic dialogue, something that both states had robustly in before 2010, building up on high-level talks on issues that are of common interest to both countries, defining them very well and not shying away from problems like security issues, economic issues, that could separate us. So the main thing both sates should be looking for is the process that allows them to solve problems, not to be blindsided by things and events as they come along.

The article was carried by Pakistan Observer on December 29,2015.

Disclaimer: Views expressed are of the writer and are not necessarily reflective of IPRI policy.

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About the Author

Khalid Hussain Chandio has been working as Research Fellow at Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI). Previously, he had joined IPRI as Assistant Research Officer (ARO) in October 2007. He was then promoted as Research Officer (RO) in February 2013. Before joining IPRI, he worked in different capacities i.e., Media Analyst and Junior Analyst in the Ministry of Defence (MoD), Pakistan, which gave him greater insight in the research and analysis fields. His areas of research include (i) US foreign and defence policy (particularly: towards Pakistan, India, and China), (ii) internal dynamics of the US/domestic politics (Lobbies in the US), (iii) traditional and non-traditional security threats/issues, and (iii) peace and conflict studies (conflict management and resolution). Khalid regularly contributes articles on current strategic issues in English Dailies of Pakistan. He holds M.Phil in International Relations (IR) from School of Politics and International Relations (SPIR), Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU), Islamabad, Pakistan and Masters/M.Sc in Defence and Strategic Studies (DSS) from the same university.

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