US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will be visiting Pakistan next week, becoming the highest government official to visit Pakistan from the new US administration. The visit is being billed as the culmination of bilateral diplomacy between the two states in recent months, and its outcome will have great bearing on the future relationship.

While cooperation is a keyword in both sides’ press releases, the word means different things to each; the priorities and concerns are have been at odds.

While it is reasonably expected that Tillerson will ask Pakistan to do more in eradicating the hideouts of terrorists in the country and bringing Taliban to negotiating table with Kabul.  To achieve a win-win outcome from his visit, he needs to convey Pakistan’s expectations to his government as well.

Firstly Pakistan needs to convince the U.S to support the CPEC, which is part of OBOR, as Pakistan considers the project to be a vital one for the reinvigoration of its economy and crucial for catering to the energy crisis that has plagued the industries in the country. The statement made recently by US Defence Secretary James Mattis regarding the project will dent the already strained relations between the two countries and has spawned widespread condemnation at home.

 The latest statement made by US Defence Secretary on the project is not the first time that America has shown its disapproval to projects that Pakistan want to execute to meet its energy requirements. In the case of Iran pipeline project too, America was hostile to any such development. For cordial relations between both the countries, America needs to stop exerting pressure and adopting Indian line of argument regarding the CPEC.

While the U.S tilt towards India in regional alliances is surely concerning, it isn’t as problematic as its misguided quest to involve India in Afghanistan

The United States should be reminded that Pakistan’s legitimate security concerns, about having a hostile India involved in its western border, need to be addressed. Any such design – where India plays a role in countering and overriding the interest of Pakistan in Afghanistan – will prove detrimental to US-Pak relations.

Tillerson also needs to be reminded that if a stable South Asia is what America wants, then Kashmir dispute needs an urgent solution. The only solution in the case of Kashmir is respecting the people right to self-determination. Till this day, American silence on Indian excesses in the valley has remained a sticking point between the two nations.

Intelligence sharing, military equipment subsidies and cooperation are expected, and uncontroversial, goals. However, the bigger issues are what really matter to the people of Pakistan.