- One meeting depends on another
That a meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and US President Donald Trump depends on the progress of US talks with the Taliban, as stated recently by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, indicates not only the desire of the former to meet the latter, but also the influence the USA thinks Pakistan enjoys with the Taliban. Mr Qureshi’s statement comes at a time when the Pak-US relationship has been at one of its lowest points. Does this have anything to do with the fact that the US-Taliban talks in Doha have been floundering? The US has a tendency to view its relations with Pakistan through the prism only of Afghanistan, but it should remember that there are multiple dimensions.
However, that does not mean that Pakistan should ignore US concerns, especially when they are focused on the fact that it has provided safe havens to those Taliban forces who are fighting US and Afghan National Army forces. Pakistan’s other issues with the US also have an element of this factor. If the US has allowed India to grow closer to Kabul, it is not just because the US itself is doing so, but because the Kabul government had been formed by a pro-Indian party. If Pakistan is upset at the US’s failure to support it in FATF, it should not forget that the US is in the forefront of ending financing for the militant organisations it is fighting in its War on Terror, not just in Afghanistan.
Pakistan must put its own house in order, not because it is in the US’s interests, or because Mr Khan wants Mr Trump’s imprimatur, but because it cannot go on suffering the losses that militants have brought it. It should not expect the rest of the world to accept as true the falsehoods it has been peddling, nor should it be angry with allies that can no longer support its obfuscations and evasions. The symbolism of our Prime Minister meeting the US President may be gratifying, but it should rest on a foundation of truth if it is indeed to symbolise an improvement in the relationship. While the US will obviously have to take steps to restore honesty to the relationship, Pakistan must do its own share as well.