It is a new era of American international policy; an era in which Pakistan-US relations do not seem likely to soar. After months of back and forth passive-aggressive statements between US and Pakistani diplomats, and unspectacular visits, it is no surprise that US Secretary of State’s end-of-year summarisation of the foreign policy does not reflect very well of Pakistan.
Tillerson’s Oped in New York Times titled “I am proud of our diplomacy” hits at many birds with one stone, implicating Pakistan, along with China, Russia and North Korea. Alluding to a new “South Asian strategy” the Secretary of State reiterated his President’s claim that Pakistan had become a safe haven for terrorists, and that US support to Pakistan was conditional only on the prefix that the country work in line with US demands and contribute to combating terrorist organisations on its soil.
Tillerson’s advice on Pakistan is nothing we haven’t heard in the last few months- repeated remarks have been made since President Trump’s speech on Pakistan late august- with the scathing The National Security Strategy report-Pakistan has had enough reminders and patronising advice on how it needs to sacrifice more. It seems that US might itself be lacking the effort it accuses Pakistan of foregoing.
It is easy for the Secretary of State of the US to tell Pakistan to “do more”; but the US must evaluate why this advice is not going through, or pay more attention to Pakistan’s reaction. Pakistan has made it clear that it will do all it can to contribute to the war against terror-a natural stance it has to take for its own self interest due to the regional considerations; however, as DG ISPR stated yesterday, Pakistan will not do so by compromising it’s dignity, such as US involving India at Pakistan’s cost, and constantly delegitimising Pakistan’s sacrifices.US must realise that it has an ally in Pakistan; by treating it like a child, and not attempting a dignified working relationship, as evidence by Trump’s call for unilateral action, the US is setting itself up for misunderstanding.
Pakistan has contributed and suffered significantly during the war on terror, and while relations with other US presidents were lukewarm, the relationship between the countries is definitely worse than it has been for years- and the change is in US’s policy. Until US invites Pakistan at the negotiating table, and treats it like an equal, Tillerson’s mantra of “doing more” will be just another diplomatic throwaway line.