Pakistan-USA ties a need of time

Despite complexities, there are compelling reasons for Pakistan to prioritize efforts to improve its relationships with US.


By Jahanzeb Alam

Pak-USA ties a need of timePakistan and the United States have shared a multifaceted and often turbulent relationship throughout their histories. This intricate association has been influenced by geopolitical interests, strategic alliances, and evolving priorities.

In the early years of Pakistan’s existence, it held significant strategic importance for the United States as a staunch Cold War ally. Its proximity to the Soviet Union made it strategically vital, leading to substantial military and economic support from the U.S. Pakistan was seen as a critical bulwark against communist influence in the region.

However, this close alliance suffered a severe setback during the 1971 Indo-Pak war when the United States sided with India, Pakistan’s longtime adversary, during the conflict that culminated in the birth of Bangladesh. This period marked a sharp deterioration in bilateral relations.

Throughout the 1980s, the United States expressed concerns about Pakistan’s nuclear program, resulting in sanctions imposed under the Pressler Amendment. The situation escalated further when Pakistan conducted nuclear tests in 1998, leading to increased international pressure.

The dynamics of the relationship shifted dramatically after the September 11 attacks. Pakistan emerged as a vital partner in the U.S.-led global war on terrorism. Pakistan provided logistical support and shared intelligence, particularly concerning neighboring Afghanistan. In return, Pakistan received substantial financial aid.

Despite this cooperation, mutual distrust persisted. The U.S. accused Pakistan of maintaining connections with militant groups like the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network, alleging elements within Pakistan’s military and intelligence apparatus supported these factions.

The United States conducted drone strikes on Pakistani territory, often without Pakistan’s consent, causing public outrage and further straining relations. Violations of Pakistani sovereignty in these instances fueled anti-American sentiments.

As the U.S. gradually shifted its focus away from Afghanistan, there was a reduction in aid and military cooperation with Pakistan. Simultaneously, the United States sought closer ties with India, leading to a sense of marginalization for Pakistan.

U.S. assistance to Pakistan experienced periodic fluctuations, often linked to concerns about Pakistan’s commitment to counterterrorism efforts. During times of cooperation, the United States provided substantial economic and military aid.

Recent years have seen complex bilateral relations continue. Pakistan plays a role in facilitating peace talks in Afghanistan, yet tensions persist over issues like human rights concerns and Pakistan’s deepening relationship with China.

Despite the complexities, there are compelling reasons for Pakistan to prioritize efforts to improve its relationships. Strengthening these relationships can unlock significant economic opportunities, increase trade, and attract investments, ultimately boosting Pakistan’s economy.

Improved relations with neighbors like India and Afghanistan can promote regional stability by reducing tensions and conflicts. Effective cooperation with both neighboring countries and the United States is crucial in the fight against terrorism, ensuring Pakistan’s security and regional stability.

Collaborative efforts with neighboring nations on energy and infrastructure projects can address Pakistan’s energy deficits and enhance its transportation networks, stimulating economic growth and development.

Furthermore, cultivating positive relations with the United States can amplify Pakistan’s diplomatic influence on the global stage. Strong ties with a superpower like the U.S. can enable Pakistan to address international issues more effectively.

Enhanced relations can also lead to improvements in humanitarian conditions, including addressing refugee crises and facilitating the return of displaced populations.

To achieve these objectives, Pakistan should consider a range of strategies. Actively engaging in diplomatic efforts to resolve ongoing conflicts with neighboring countries, such as the Kashmir issue with India and border disputes with Afghanistan, is paramount. Promoting dialogue and negotiations as the preferred means for peaceful resolutions can foster trust and cooperation.

Pakistan should demonstrate unwavering commitment to counterterrorism by taking tangible actions against militant groups operating within its borders. This will engender trust and garner support from neighboring nations and the global community.

Fostering economic integration with neighboring countries through initiatives like the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and regional trade agreements can stimulate economic growth and enhance stability. Encouraging informal diplomacy and people-to-people exchanges with the United States can help rebuild trust and strengthen cultural and educational ties.

Maintaining a balanced foreign policy that emphasizes both regional cooperation and global engagement is essential. Pakistan should avoid being drawn into regional power struggles that can strain relations with neighboring nations. Proactively working toward conflict prevention by addressing potential flashpoints through dialogue and confidence-building measures can also contribute to regional stability.

In conclusion, Pakistan’s pursuit of improved relations with its neighbors and the United States holds immense potential for economic development, security, and regional harmony. Diplomatic endeavors, conflict resolution, and a steadfast commitment to counterterrorism are fundamental steps in realizing these aspirations.

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