On July 22nd, Prime Minister Imran Khan is set to have one of the most important meetings for geopolitical purposes. Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal has confirmed that the premier will be visiting Washington on the invitation of US President Trump.

This will be Imran Khan’s first visit to the United States since his election to the office of Prime Minister last August. It is safe to say that Pakistan’s relations with the US have been somewhat of a roller-coaster, with relations, at one point, deteriorating to the worst they have been in decades. In 2018, Donald Trump has sent many a hostile tweet towards Pakistan, stated the “the country didn’t do a damn thing for us”, and has cut funding for Pakistan. In return, Pakistan hit back, with our leaders proposing review of foreign policy options and asking the US president to reflect on the real reasons for America’s failure in Afghanistan. In a space where Pakistan began to strengthen ties with China and neighbouring countries, and the USA found its ally in India, it seemed difficult that Imran Khan and Donald Trump would have a friendly meeting any time soon.

Yet the tide began to turn in 2019 as Trump has evidently softened towards Pakistan. It could be because the US sees new utility in reclaiming Pakistan as an ally, or because Pakistani authorities, under Imran Khan and the strict eye of FATF (Financial Action Task Force) have truly put effort into curtailing terrorism financing and weeding out terrorist groups. Whatever the case, both sides have largely toned down their statements against each other. Trump in March stated that Pakistan and the US shared good relations, and in a letter sought the government’s “assistance and facilitation in achieving a negotiated settlement of the Afghan war”.

The meeting for July comes at an opportune time. Imran Khan and Trump will meet just as two diplomatic breakthroughs were achieved for Pakistan. Firstly, the United States designated BLA as a terrorist organisation, which is a huge diplomatic victory for Pakistan. Secondly, Pakistan finally lodged charges on Hafiz Saeed and 12 other leaders of JuD, a move that should improve Pakistan’s international standing, particularly with India and the US.

While the meeting comes at an exceptionally hopeful timing, it is still important for Pakistan to be prudent. A rapprochement seems to be in the works- which is long-needed- yet in the fragile world of diplomacy, it would not hurt for Pakistan to be careful.