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The Widening Gap Between the U.S. and Pakistan – What To Do?




In the wake of the dramatic takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, the relations between Pakistan and the U.S. Seem to be dwindling. The major resentment from the U.S. Towards Pakistan is based on the belief that Pakistan had something to do with such a swift takeover of power by the Taliban. Although all countries have different approaches and points of view regarding this issue, however, the U.S. Seems to have a rather harsh response towards Pakistan, which could further diminish the bilateral relations between the two countries. Being the two important players in South Asia, both countries need to adopt a rather neutral approach towards the situation instead of indulging in the blame game.

There has been a strong perspective among the U.S. President Joe Biden and the members of the Senate regarding the indulgence of Pakistan in the sudden takeover of Afghanistan. It is also believed that Pakistan has been facilitating the Taliban towards this capture for a long time. Although there are many doubts regarding such claims, the U.S. Senate is adamant about blaming Pakistan for the upheaval in Afghanistan.

On the other hand, Pakistan’s rejection of such blames is a clear indication of the rift between the two major countries in terms of geopolitical matters. The U.S. has major concerns in the South Asian region, particularly in connection with the geo-strategic and geopolitical rivalry with China. Similarly, Pakistan is an “all-weather” friend of China, is emerging as the major player in South Asian politics where Afghanistan is the focal point right now. Thus, the widening gap between the two countries can prove to be of dire consequences in the region.

Why such mistrust?

From the U.S. perspective, Pakistan seems to be a secret ally of the Taliban and has been involved in making them achieve the goal of the Afghan takeover. The level of mistrust and political distancing by the U.S. is based on the pretext of “safe-havens” of the Taliban in Pakistan. Although some of the claims might be true as the North Waziristan region of Pakistan has been under constant operations against Taliban and other militant groups. But this doesn’t endorse the fact that the Pakistan government is on the side of the Taliban as the country has itself lost thousands of lives during the so-called War On Terror. The last decade has, according to the Pakistani stance, been full of bomb attacks, kidnappings, and terror attacks on the Pakistan army which makes a victim of the Taliban rage. However, the U.S. seems to be undermining the efforts of Pakistan to curtail the threat posed by the Taliban.

Similarly, the war lost in Afghanistan is a major setback to the U.S. government which apparently, seems to be finding scapegoats to put the blame for their failure after 20 years of fighting. However, according to some specialists like the former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker, “Pakistan needs to be comprehensively engaged in talks and finding solutions to the Aghan threat, rather than being sidelined as a Taliban ally”. Thus, without a mutual understanding and cooperation, both countries will lose from the situation and the Taliban might once again gain ground to impose their self-made rule.

The way out

As suggested by the geostrategic experts, here are some of the measures that Pakistan and the U.S. can take to secure mutual trust and cooperation for tackle the issue of Taliban:

  • Both countries must form a relationship of mutual benefits which can only be achieved through cooperation and understanding without bias. Leaving the past behind, U.S. can trust the potential of Pakistan and let it control the situation in the region as the Taliban are more close to Pakistan than the U.S.
  • U.S. and Pakistan relation needs to be based on equality and diplomatic reciprocity rather than blame games. This is not an era of unavoidable dependence on the U.S. assistance to Pakistan as Pakistan is more backed by China and other regional players. Thus, only a relation of mutual respect can achieve peace.
  • The gravity of the situation must not be ignored by both countries. As the Taliban have regained control, one must accept the scenario and try to find peaceful means to further the conditions in Afghanistan rather than engaging in yet another conflict with Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The relation of the U.S. and Pakistan have remained constrained in the past two decades due to the War On Terror and the pressure on Pakistan to “do more”. This has led both countries to mistrust each other, however, in the case of Afghanistan in the current situation, only mutual trust and cooperation can bridge the gap between both countries.

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