In the midst of daunting regional geopolitical intrigue and last straw of chalking out strategies for endgame in Afghanistan, Washington again caught between two stools, perhaps counted the cost of pitfalls and bellicose rhetoric towards Islamabad, thus preceded rapprochement and shifted its strategically confrontationist approach to re-engagement for a solution of protracted Afghanistan conflict through political resolve.
Whilst Pakistan seized the occasion, came up with shrewd responsive measures- cut the mustard as a key regional diplomatic actor, maintaining its geostrategic relevance and exigencies of security-cum-economic interests, decisively extended full cooperation for peace restoration in Afghanistan by bringing contending parties on the negotiation table. This precondition allows stalled diplomatic relationship between two states to have a breakthrough and Prime Minster Imran khan’s first visit accompanied by cabinet delegate, and military leadership to the United States furbished plausibility of converging interests and extended cooperation.
Notably, rekindled stride further validated by an announcement from The State Department to approve a conceivable Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to Pakistan for Technical Security Team (TST), in continuous support of the F-16 program for an expected cost of $125 million.
Recent significant developments widely regarded as a linchpin to reinstate the jeopardized architecture of regional security by the proponents of perpetual peace and regional stability. The trip holds multifarious ramification to robust Imran khan’s political stature and preservation of broader state’s interest. In terms of domestic gains, the public diplomacy impacts to some extent deviated the mounting pressure on government exerted by opposition parties due to grisly wallowing economic junctures that continue to hit a soft patch. Yet, worldwide acknowledgement from supporters on print, social and electronic media forums and least margin of criticism for the opposition in due course extended public acceptance through edging considerable domestic political mileage.
Adding further, successful diplomatic venture by historic gathering of Pakistani diaspora at bustling capital arena boosted the national image and also admonished policymakers in Washington and political rivals back at home to introspect general perception towards his leadership abilities -“His fidelity towards good governance is undeniable however merely cricketing expertise cannot endorse his calibre as factotum to run state affairs.”
It is pertinent to highlight that pentagon’s interests and Pakistan’s narrative vis-a-vis Afghanistan quagmire coincided, this timely cohesion provided Imran khan favourable settings for desirable negotiations whereas during President Bush and Obama era the political leadership from Islamabad experienced intensely perplexed situation due to divergent American interests, multiple domestic constraints and hostile regional geopolitical configurations.
The army chief’s meeting with United States Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and the country’s top military leadership assisted to revive the bilateral sustainable military coordination. It may reopen the doors for the military to participate in the International Military Education and Training program of the US, which suspended after pronouncements of the US Af-Pak policy by President Trump.
Likewise, the Probability of a resumption of coalition support funds cannot be ruled out to facilitate Pakistan’s efforts of counterterrorism and improving fragile regional security architecture. Unlike previous occasions, this time clear and coherent narrative of civil-military leadership over how Pakistan can capacitate the US to resolve collective regional security challenges and recent contributions in Afghanistan peace process subverted prior subtle policy, oriented through masses resentments and muddling rhetoric.
In the context of India, Trump willingness to mediate in resolving Kashmir issue with a particular assertion- “Modi had requested him personally.” As expected, New Delhi caught off guard. An embarrassing situation ensued whereas their foreign ministry spokesman had to deny any request by Modi to Trump in this regard. A quick rebuttal was interpreted as meaningful because Trump was made to appear as a liar. It seems that even Pakistan was not expecting a categorical response from the US President on Kashmir which would entirely go in favour of Pakistan’s narrative. Indian media were quick to lament. The whispers of the strategic partnership between India and the US in diplomatic corridors turned sour. Indian media initially downplayed Imran Khan’s successful diplomatic and PR achievements but later on admitted that Imran seemed confident and decisive in communicating his point of view across Washington’s circles. Thus, another diplomatic win for Pakistan left India red-faced and also raised grave apprehensions for its lobbies in Washington to avert the strategic catastrophe.
Over the past few years, the flaccidity of Pak-US relations increased space to consequent strong Pak-China partnership. New stride of constructive bilateral relationship and growing US-India resentments raised the impetus for Pakistan to hold “strategic Balance” between the China and US, therefore conventional approach of shifting alliance with great powers can be appraised through establishing independent parallel harmonious ties and to seclude states policies mirror imaging interests of both powerful contending actors in region.
Recent bilateral dialogue appraisal endorsed resounding diplomatic triumph for Islamabad and its further corroboration attributed with the accomplishment of “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.” Henceforth, both states must converge interests for desirable endgame in Afghanistan to foster corridors of sustainable bilateral cooperation, averting precedents of uncertainty and embezzlement.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy and position of Regional Rapport.