Just a day after the United States (US) killed Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s Quds Force, the US Congress gave the go-ahead to President Donald Trump’s resumption of training and education facilities for Pakistani military officials. And President Trump authorised the resumption of International Military Education and Training (IMET) for Pakistan. The development is welcome.

However, Pakistan needs to put the American move in the context of escalations in the Middle East (ME) and Trump’s desire to strike a deal with the Taliban. In today’s complex and interconnected world, even the bitterest enemy states cannot live without maintaining some communication. Today’s foes can become tomorrow’s best friends only to perpetuate their respective interests. So, what explains the sudden change in the US’s attitude towards Pakistan?

The most critical factor that explains the resumption of Pakistan’s participation in the IMET is Islamabad’s decisive role in facilitating the peace talks between the US and the Afghan Taliban. While many may see it as an opportunity to increase bilateral cooperation, Pakistan should not see it bridging of the gaps. The US is only using this program according to a State Department spokeswoman as an exception “to support vital US national security interests.”

Arguably, allowing Pakistan to participate in IMET tells us that Trump’s administration is appreciating Islamabad’s efforts in bringing peace and stability to war-torn Afghanistan. Needless to say that the US will expect Pakistan to take sides with it should security situation in the ME get out of hands. This is a test of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Pakistan needs to see that resumption of the military training as an exception “to support vital US national security interests.”

Islamabad should not commit anything to the US if the military training is coming with strings attached. Also, the changing situation in the region requires the government to hold parliament’s joint session to deliberate on the stance and path it needs to take in days ahead.