At one point, Pakistan was called the most allied ally of the US and at times, the relationship descended to bare faced accusations. In the current phase, relations between the US and Pakistan can be said to be on the right track.

In anticipation of the visit to Washington by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, scheduled for October 21-23, Pakistan’s public relations machinery has gone into over-drive to build expectations of a new partnership between Pakistan and the United State. Pakistan will seek US role in evolving a meaningful roadmap for repatriation of millions of Afghan refugees in addition to discussing other key issues during the visit – including enhancing bilateral cooperation in defence, civil nuclear programme and trade and investment.

Repatriation of refugees has gained significance because of security concerns that have increased, following the two major terrorist attacks including PAF Badaber base, Peshawar and Army Public School believed to have been engineered in Afghanistan. Islamabad is indecisive to implement the looming December 31 deadline for the repatriation of more than three million Afghan refugees after requests from UNHCR and Afghan government to extend the deadline for next two years.

White House officials have already started talks that could ultimately govern the scale of Pakistan’s growing nuclear arsenal. Pakistan denies that any need to do so exists, but it is clear that the United States has been engaged with Pakistan, as well as the rest of the international community, on issues related to nuclear safety and security.

It is also believed that the PM would take up the issue of Indian involvement in destabilization of Pakistan as well as American military supplies to New Delhi, creating military imbalance in the region. PM would also raise issue of US supply of nuclear technology to India and not giving similar treatment to Pakistan which is facing extreme energy crisis.

Looking at the need of the hour, it is necessary to raise the issue of Kashmir with full vigour, realising that the US in the recent past has made some balanced statements on the issue and emphasised the need for talks. At the same time, we must temper our expectations because in pursuit of own interests, the US has shelved its concerns regarding Modi’s extremist doctrine and embraced him intimately.

Despite the handicap, we should persevere in seeking stronger ties with the US. The US-Pakistan relationship should not be seen in black and white and through the prism of likes and dislikes. It has many grey areas; and Pakistan should know by now that some of our vital interests are bound with this relationship, which should be handled skillfully.