Recently, the bilateral ties between Pakistan and America have gone sore to the extent that American President Trump tweeted on the eve of the new year calling Pakistan “all lies and deceit.” Subsequent actions followed in the form of cuts on financial and military assistance to Islamabad. However, with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) in power, many believed that the two sides would take up a conciliatory approach to sort out their differences. Hence, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Pakistan’s foreign minister, met the US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and the National Security Advisor (NSA) John Bolton. Both meetings’ subject was Afghanistan.

It was natural that Afghanistan would be dominating the meetings, as the strain in ties of the two partners was the diverging approach to fight terrorism that each side had taken. Though Bolton has called the meetings successful, speculations are that the gap between the two countries cannot be bridged on the on-going insurgency in Afghanistan. Furthermore, the details of what happened and was discussed in the meetings are scant. Scant details are not a characteristic of a successful meeting. Is there anything concrete has been decided between the two sides to reinvigorate the ties or should we see the meeting as another one of the countless positive meetings we have had that have produced little results?

What is worth remembering in the bilateral ties of Islamabad and Washington is the fact that since Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan, bilateral relations between Pakistan and the United States have been defined by the events in Afghanistan. Till this day, Afghanistan is constant in this regard. As the US invasion of Afghanistan has entered its eighteenth year with no foreseeable end to the American occupation of Kabul, the frustration resulting from the inability to defeat Taliban has left its mark on the bilateral ties.

While America wants Pakistan to adopt a more aggressive action against the Taliban and their supporters, Pakistan sees the inclusion of the Taliban as the only way forward to end the Afghan conundrum. The latest meetings between the two sides tell the same story, reveals the same positions.

While both sides vehemently maintain that they share a common desire for peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region at large, the lack of convergence in modus operandi of both sides makes the bilateral relations weary most of the time. Washington blames Pakistan now and then for the Afghan quagmire. Likewise, Islamabad also feels, and rightly so, that the world community falls blind to its sacrifices, thanks to the American propaganda. It is about time for Pakistan and the US to undergo extensive and comprehensive deliberations to chalk out a solution to bring an end to the on-going civil war like situation in Kabul.