Beyond Our Neuralgias
While maintaining good working and predictable bilateral relation with the United States is necessary, it should not be done by compromising Pakistan’s strategic interests and other strategic partnerships like the one with China.
“Justice prevails only when compulsion of necessity is equal on both sides. The powerful exact what they can and week grant what they must,” says Thucydides, a Greek historian.
At one of the conference many moons ago, late Ambassador Akram Zaki described Pakistan-United States relations as a sentenced prisoner occasionally released on bail when the prisoner was to be used. It is difficult to disagree with this definition of Pakistan-US relations. A cursory look at the history of Pakistan-US bilateral relations reveals that the US has basically looked at Pakistan adversely and was occasionally given reprieve while the sanctions on Pakistan were never withdrawn. The sanctions were only waived or suspended whenever the US needed Pakistan to be used as a policy instrument and re-imposed once the task was accomplished.
An overview of Pakistan-US relations clearly revels a pattern of bilateral relations characterized with unilateral advantage for the US where Pakistan often sacrificed many other relations especially with USSR at the beginning, and later with Russia and Iran for saving relationship with the US. Despite this, the US-Pakistan bilateral relations have been complex and often disappointing “love-hate” relationship. This relationship has been severely tested during the 1965 and 1971 wars with India and the 20-year U.S.-led intervention in Afghanistan. The situation of the bilateral relations of mutual distrust and yet mutual dependence on several fronts still persists even after the withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan. The time has, therefore, come for serious policy consideration of whether and how both nations can achieve a more strategically beneficial and sustainable relationship that is stable, predictable, long-term and beneficial to both Pakistan and the US.
The world is in a state of geostrategic and geo-economic flux with South Asian politics also going through profound changes. While the US is getting closer to India and signing long-term strategic agreements with New Delhi, the bilateral relationship between Pakistan and China has acquired a new dimension, becoming an All Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership. The first phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) completed and the second phase of industrial development is in full swing. While maintaining good working and predictable bilateral relation with the US is necessary, it should not be done by compromising Pakistan’s strategic interests and other strategic partnerships like the one with China.
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