The points of debate on how to win the war against terror on Afghan soil has strained the US- Pak relations many a time. The arguments of both sides have made the debate a clichéd one. Both sides repeat the old arguments to present their case. No side has offered anything new on how to win the war in Afghanistan or how to ensure the regional peace, stability, and security.
As the head of Pentagon, Defence Secretary James Mattis on his first visit to Islamabad met Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and Chief of Army Staff, Qamar Bajwa, to deliberate on the issue of terrorism, terror outfits operating within Pakistan. The report released by the US Embassy in Islamabad after the meetings give no insight on any significant change in approach on how to counter militancy. The published document is a list of “Do More” in different aspects of the American led war in Afghanistan.
Whether Mattis has found or established any new common ground on which both countries can work together or not, he like all other US officials repeated the “Do More” mantra. However, given the warm welcome he received in comparison to Tillerson, it can be assumed that both countries have realized that they need to work closely to achieve more gains against the common enemy.
Also, it is encouraging to note that there are officials in the Trump’s administration who at least recognize the sacrifices Pakistan has rendered so far in the war on terror.
COAS while meeting Mattis assured him of maximum cooperation, as Islamabad will “look into the possibility of miscreants exploiting Pakistan’s hospitality.” The past efforts to sort out the irritants failed in US-Pak relations after the announcement of Trump’s South Asia policy; one can see a glimmer of hope in Mattis’s visit of putting things back on track.