With the political change in Islamabad, the US once again is trying its luck to persuade Islamabad to play its role in bringing peace to Kabul. Therefore, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo will be visiting to meet the newly elected prime minister, Imran Khan.
Never before has the United States faced so much confusion on Afghanistan as it is experiencing now. On the one hand, Donald Trump accuses Pakistan of providing haven to the terrorists who fight against US forces in Afghanistan. On the other hand, the White House administration also admits that dialogue with the Taliban in the absence of Pakistan cannot materialise.
The expectation that Alice Wells, head of the Bureau for South Asian affairs, will accompany Michael Pompeo means Afghanistan will be the core area of consultations between the two sides. Despite all-time low bilateral relations between the two uneasy partners in War on Terror, the US considers Pakistan’s assistance imperative to peace in Kabul.
The principal demand of the US from Imran will be to help end the Afghan war. Islamabad should play its role in ending the Afghan conflict. Afghanistan and its people have suffered a lot in seventeen years long multifaceted war. Islamabad needs to play a proactive role in persuading Taliban to show some flexibility for the sake of ensuring peace. Time is of the essence. Other countries like Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia are also actively engaged in helping the US in concluding the war. Pakistan has a golden opportunity to create a favourable environment in Afghanistan to give peace and stability a chance.
But the visit of Micheal Pompeo should not look like a meeting where dictation will be given to Pakistan. Pakistan has the upper hand at present. It is about time that Islamabad deals with the US on equal footing. If the US wants Pakistan’s aid, the government in Islamabad need to put certain conditions before the United States. First, Islamabad should have complete authority in its internal affairs. Second, the US should not create hurdles for Pakistan in international multilateral bodies. Third, US needs to give Islamabad assurance that any other power in the region will not distort its peace initiative.
Apart from seeking Islamabad’s cooperation in the peace process in Kabul, the US also needs to stop behaving eccentrically. White House needs to treat Pakistan as a sovereign and equal state. These are some issues and points that Imran and his team need to present before Pompeo. If the US accepts these points, then restoration of close and cordial bilateral ties is a possibility.