The much hyped and much awaited US trip by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has come to a close. For Nawaz Sharif, who has had indifferent success in foreign policy matters, a one on one meeting with the US president during a period of tense relations with India and Afghanistan was a golden opportunity to reverse that trend. The prime minister has several good attributes, but being an inspiring diplomat is not one of them. And that reflected in the US-Pakistan statement released after the talks.

Admittedly, there were some positive achievements, yet the statement did not cover much ground – at its simplest the joint statement is nothing more than a collective pat on the back. The statement covered a myriad of subjects, such as climate change, global health, cyber security, trade and investment, nuclear policy, regional security, terrorism and even Kashmir, but most of it either reaffirmed old commitments or appreciated the government’s role in that field. Even when new initiatives were proposed, they were structured as upgrades of the past policies – no new ground was broken. This of course doesn’t apply to the military’s foreign policy objectives; they had quietly secured a deal for the sale of eight F-16 aircrafts even before the premiers’ meeting was concluded.

The government will contend that it did make some important deals, and on paper it seems so. Pakistan got the US to support a peaceful resolution to the Kashmir crisis – a field they had been staying out from pointedly. Furthermore, getting support for Diamer Bhasha and Dasu dams, as well as other energy projects will help their completion. That being said, how will this ‘support’ translate into tangible results is unknown. Will the US use its diplomatic power to push India towards a resolution in Indian occupied Kashmir? Will the US fund these energy projects or help remove impediments for them? At the moment these acts seem unlikely.

However, diplomacy is a continuous process and it would be unfair to expect the government to find quick fixes for deep-seated problems in a single night. Thus, on a shortened yardstick, the trip can be considered in a positive light; Pakistan’s efforts to eradicate terrorism were globally condoned, and a partnership with a key ally was reinforced – but it must be kept in mind that key issues remain just as stagnant.