Categories: CommentEditorials

The complication of a transactional relationship

  • Trying to reset Pak-US ties

The visit by the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and CJCSC General Joseph F. Dunford was welcome as it showed that both sides were keen to resolve differences through talks. Another positive development was that both the civilian and military leadership interacted jointly with the US delegation instead of meeting it separately. Pompeo  had already  gone public over what the US wanted from Pakistan. What position Pakistan took about the points raised by the Secretary of State is however known only to those who participated in the meeting. That there was neither a joint press conference nor a joint statement indicated that  there was little convergence of views worth making  public.

The first meeting took place  between  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Foreign Minister Qureshi.  Both sides  underscored the need to ‘reset US-Pak bilateral ties’ on the basis of mutual respect and trust.

The delegation level talks  were led by PM Imran Khan on one side and Pompeo on the other.  During the little time available to them both delegations  could only present summaries of their views on Pak-US relations and the regional and international situation. It was here that  issues considered crucial by the two delegations  were raised with each side putting forth precisely what it expected from the other. Imran Khan reportedly maintained that the interests of both the countries had to be given due consideration.

Mike Pompeo had already put forward his country’s position in his talk to the media on board the flight from Washington. He emphasised that  with a new Prime Minister committed to peace in Afghanistan, he was  hoping that both sides would turn the page and begin to make progress provided expectations were fulfilled.   Pakistan, he said, still hadn’t done enough against terror groups to merit the resumption of U.S. security assistance. That was the answer to FM Qureshi’s earlier statement regarding the stoppage of CSF.

Pompeo can now convey to President Trump his assessment of what the new  Pakistan leadership and the military establishment want from the US.  He has invited Foreign Minister Qureshi to Washington. It still remains to be seen if  the two countries can devise a mutually acceptable position.


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