- Leaf out of IK’s book?
It’s not just our Prime Minister Imran Khan who is known for taking U-turns on key issues. US President Donald Trump, it seems, is also following in in PM Khan’s footsteps as he has taken a U-turn in his position against Pakistan.
After recently launching his tirade against Pakistan accusing it of “not doing a damn” thing for the US and giving a hideout to Osama bin Laden, Trump has written a letter to PM Khan seeking assistance in the Afghan peace process. Moreover, US special envoy for Afghan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad also visited Pakistan to hold talks with the country’s top leadership regarding the issue.
Although the White House has not publicly confirmed such a letter being written, we can still believe our prime minister and the foreign office. In the letter, President Trump termed relations with Pakistan “very important” to solve the Afghan conflict, especially in helping to bring the Taliban to the talking table.
While the recent Twitter war did not seem to go well for both the countries, the fresh steps on behalf of the US president have created a new hope for Afghan peace and improved Pak-US ties. For a couple of years now, the US has been alleging Pakistan of not doing enough in the war on terror and kept on banging its ‘do more’ mantra. Pakistan has, at times, reciprocated with the same hostility and in other instances, tried to pacify the US reminding it of its sacrifices.
Nonetheless, with the recent developments, one can safely say that the need-based relationship between Pakistan and the US is not yet over. The prolonged conflict in Afghanistan has not only cost heavy losses to its own people but has also irked the US and the entire region, including Pakistan.
One thing American administrations have always failed to understand is that wars once initiated are not easy to conclude and this is probably why they never really ponder upon the effects of these conflicts, and more importantly, how to lead them to an end. Be it the Vietnam War or Iraq invasion, the US didn’t take long to launch them but when it came to get out of the mess it got itself into, it had no concrete plan.
Just last year, in his South Asia strategy, Trump resorted to increasing troops in Afghanistan and vied for a military solution to the conflict which obviously failed in view of the number and nature of actors involved in the region. It’s not just Taliban, it’s the Afghan government and Pakistan as well that have borne the actual brunt of the war
Same is happening in the war on terror where just a single 9/11 attack gave a reason strong enough to President George W. Bush to pre-empt the threat and launch a global war against terrorism but now that Trump (and previously Obama administration) wants to end the war, it again has no idea what to do.
Just last year, in his South Asia strategy, Trump resorted to increasing troops in Afghanistan and vied for a military solution to the conflict which obviously failed in view of the number and nature of actors involved in the region. It’s not just Taliban, it’s the Afghan government and Pakistan as well that have borne the actual brunt of the war.
Apart from monetary support, the US never gave Pakistan the necessary appreciation on the tireless efforts it has been making ever since it joined the US as its frontline ally. The fact that over 70,000 Pakistanis have been killed in the war – which was not even its own in the first place – is heavily downplayed in the US. Not to mention the longstanding effects of war as a whole new generation has been raised amid this conflict. They didn’t deserve to have such a life but who is responsible? The terrorists, Afghan government, the US or Pakistan? The fateful people born in the war-ravaged region had no contribution in the turmoil but still they are the ones who continue to suffer the most.
Now that we see an accelerated effort on the part of the US to get out of Afghanistan, Trump’s U-turn doesn’t look like a bad idea. PM Khan, who has also softened his tone towards the US following the letter, is also welcoming any steps in the peace process and is willing to play his part to finally bring some relief in the region.
With growing insecurities in the anarchic world, trade-based relation is one thing that can keep conflicts at bay. Just how the recent World Bank report shows the trade potential of Pakistan in the region to be of $39.7 billion against the actual current trade of $5.1 billion, Pakistan should be ready to use all means to ramp up its economic game. Peace and stability in Afghanistan is not only a shared responsibility but will also turn out to be a shared benefit.