CSS Solved Pakistan Affairs Past Papers | Discuss Issues And Mistrust In US-Pakistan Relations After The U.S. Troops From Afghanistan Withdrawal.
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In this question, the examiner asked you to highlight the issues and mistrust prevalent in Pak-US relations, especially in the aftermath of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. So, first, you need to give a brief overview of the history of relations between the two countries that shows how it was always about American interests and their fulfillment. Second, list some of the issues that came to the limelight and resulted in a trust deficit after the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan. When done, the next step is to write some suggestions to improve the relations between the two countries. Remember, giving suggestions gives you more chances of scoring high; however, it is not compulsory to include them in the answer. Finally, end your answer with a critical analysis and a conclusion. Please note that you can merge your analysis and concluding paragraph if less time is left.
Despite beginning on healthy terms, Pak-US relations have seen critical ups and downs over the years, all of which owe their roots to the ad hoc U.S. policies for Pakistan in the light of the Afghan issue. Likewise, after withdrawing from Afghanistan, the U.S. no longer needs Pakistan and – thus – has been accusing it of double-crossing America, increasing issues for Pakistan and expanding the trust deficit between the two countries.
Overview of Pak-US client-patron relations
- The constant fluctuation in relations
- Cold War, Sino-Indian War, and the Global War on Terror
- Pakistan has not been more given importance
- Biden Administration is not beginning relations on a positive note
- No invitation to the climate summit
- Acquittal of Omar Saeed Sheikh by the SCP
- Pakistan’s broad approach – invites the U.S. to “come, compete, and invest” in Pakistan rather than diplomatically coercing Pakistan for its close relations with China.
Issues between the two countries that resulted in mistrust
- Double game of Pakistan vis-à-vis fighting Taliban before the U.S. withdrawal
- “Absolutely not” by Pakistan for giving bases to America
- Support for the Taliban government – a bone of contention
- Pakistan-China collaboration – an Achilles Heel for the USA
- US-India strategic relations – Proxy against Pakistan
Ways Forward for the Betterment of Relations
- Holding Track I discussions
- Viewing each other through a broader lens to form an all-inclusive relation
- Devising means for improving trilateral relations among Pakistan, Afghanistan, and America via compromises
- Pak-US relations post-withdrawal – The diplomatic equivalent of a lousy marriage
- Both the countries only focus on their interests
Answer to the Question
The only thing historically consistent in the Pak-US relations has been the fluctuations. Over the years, the relationship has become an ad hoc rather than a bona fide association due to America’s narrow vested interests. The superpower has used Pakistan for its benefit, such as during the cold war and in the War on Terror in Afghanistan. This situation has been prevalent for the past seventy-five years of Pak-US relations and has nourished an environment of mistrust and issues between the two states. Moreover, America employs a carrot and stick approach with Pakistan to achieve its national interests. For instance, before the commencement of the Afghan crisis, the world witnessed the Cold War era in which the U.S. – by using carrots in the form of funds and aids – made Pakistan a friend to counter the spread of communism. Next in line was the Sino-Indian war, where the U.S. halted its relations with Pakistan because of the latter’s open support for China. And adding fuel to the fire, it started providing military aid to India. Nonetheless, the superpower – at last – again felt the need for Pakistan’s assistance when the former waged war on Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9/11. This shows how the USA used Pakistan according to its vested interests and never developed a holistic, long-term relationship between the two. The former Prime Minister of Pakistan quotes the U.S. attitude: “Whenever the U.S. needed us, it established relations, and Pakistan became its frontline state. And then abandoned us and slapped sanctions on us”. Hence, there is a dire need for pragmatic and holistic steps to counter the issues between the two countries, such as focusing on matters of common interests and increasing economic rather than strategic relations. Unless such measures are taken, Pak-US relations could completely halt.
“Afghanistan has long been the lens through which Washington views its relations with Islamabad.”– Micheal Kugelman
When Joe Biden came into power in the USA, he invited Pakistan’s two neighbours – Bangladesh and India – to a climate summit. Despite Pakistan’s globally acknowledged “Billion Tree Tsunami initiative, ” the country was not welcomed in the summit. In addition, a situation of mistrust for Pakistan also developed in America when the Supreme Court of Pakistan acquitted Omar Saeed Sheikh, the mastermind behind the kidnapping of Wall Street Journalist Daniel Pearl. Additionally, the lack of communication between the heads of government of both countries and, recently, the accusation of the former Prime Minister of Pakistan against the USA regarding the indulgence in the political affairs of the country added fuel to the fire. Still, Pakistan invited America to heal the relations by offering to “come, compete, and invest” in the country rather than using China or Afghanistan to guide the Pak-US ties. Nevertheless, the coming of the new government in Pakistan can ease the prevailing tensions between the two countries, and the events can take a turn for betterment.
SCENARIO AFTER THE US WITHDRAWAL
Following the comeback of the Taliban in August 2021 in Afghanistan, the U.S. hastened the process of withdrawal from the country. As a result, the decades-long war against terror halted, leaving many unanswered questions, such as:
- What were the factors responsible for the failure of the US WOT?
- Does the role of Pakistan in WOT need to be evaluated?
- Was Pakistan behind the strategic defeat of the USA in Afghanistan?
- How could the Taliban gain power in Afghanistan despite U.S. supremacy?
- What does the future hold for Pakistan and American bilateral relations?
ISSUES BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES THAT RESULTED IN MISTRUST
The present relations between the two countries have resulted from multiple issues that led to mistrust.
The double game of Pakistan vis-à-vis fighting Taliban before U.S. withdrawal
Major bone of contention between Pakistan and the USA is the trust deficit in America regarding the role of Pakistan. Various policymakers in America hold the view that Pakistan has always played a double game in Afghanistan; on the one hand, it took the military and monetary benefits from America as a coalition partner, and on the other hand, it kept the doors of diplomacy open with Taliban. So, this dual policy has not allowed Pakistan to play an efficient role in War on Terror against the Taliban. This is evident from the fact that Pakistan brought the Taliban to a negotiating table with, first, the U.S. and later the Afghan government. This answer of whether Pakistan is a friend or an enemy of the Taliban made the USA accuse Pakistan of its strategic defeat.
“This is one of the things we’re going to be looking at in the days and weeks ahead — the role that Pakistan has played over the last 20 years.”– Secretary of State Antony Blinken
Absolutely not to giving bases to the American army
Being an ally of the U.S. in the Cold War and the WOT, Pakistan assisted in all forms, including giving its military bases to the U.S. army for the surveillance of USSR and to carry out the drone attacks on the terrorist bases, respectively. However, Pakistan recently denied giving its bases to the USA after the latter’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. During an interview with the former PM of Pakistan, Imran Khan, Jonathan Swan asked the premier whether he would allow the American government to have the CIA in Pakistan to conduct counter-terrorism missions against al-Qaeda, ISIS, or the Taliban. The answer of the premier was:
“Not. There is no way we will allow any bases or action from Pakistani territory into Afghanistan. Absolutely not”
The response of Pakistan’s Prime Minister was shocking for the viewers, especially the USA, as Pakistan has long been an ally of America. The change in stance reflects the intensity of issues both countries have. Therefore, such a response created further mistrust between the two countries.
Support for the Taliban government – a bone of contention
Another issue between the two countries is supporting Afghanistan’s newly formed Taliban government. Pakistan has a soft corner for the people of Afghanistan, who have borne the brunt of the WOT for many years. Before, the war against Soviet troops from 1979 to 1989 created many issues for the locals. Thus, Pakistan has called for humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan at various international forums, calling the international community to help the people by unfreezing Afghanistan’s assets and reversing the sanctions. Imran Khan said in the U.N. General Assembly, “We must strengthen and stabilize the current government for the sake of the people of Afghanistan.” In contrast, the USA believes that the Taliban government needs to be sanctioned unless it gives women their rights and forms an inclusive government representing all the sections of the country. Hence, the support of Pakistan for the Afghanis is equated to helping the Taliban, by the policymakers in Washington, troubling the already troubled relations.
Pakistan-China collaboration – an Achilles Heel for the USA
Furthermore, the Pak-China bilateral relations are another contention point between the two countries. The indulgence of the USA in Afghanistan made it focus less on the emerging Pak-China relations; however, after the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the USA is focusing again on the strategic Pak-China alliance. The heavy investment of China in Pakistan in the form of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as its flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative has initiated doubts in Washington against China’s rising power. As Pakistan is also a significant part of China’s BRI project connecting it to the Central Asian States via Gwadar port, thus, America also sees Pakistan as a part of the problem along with China. Therefore, the Pakistan-China collaboration is proving to be an Achilles Heel for the USA, creating mistrust between the two countries.
US-India strategic relations – Proxy against Pakistan
Similarly, Pakistan is also wary of the strategic alliance between the USA and India. The constant collaboration between India and America enhances the doubts in Islamabad about the U.S. support of Indian hegemonic designs in the South Asian region. Moreover, Pakistan has remained a victim of various proxies, one of which is being waged by India on Pakistani soil. For instance, the case of Kulboshan Yadav, an Indian spy apprehended from Balochistan province, bears witness to the fact. Thus, the issue of US-India strategic relations has created mistrust between the USA and Pakistan.
The previously discussed trust deficit and issues developed between the U.S. and Pakistan have caused many problems for the diplomatic relations between the two states. Hence, holistic and pragmatic steps are needed to prevent the grave situation from escalating further. First, there is a dire need to establish track I talks between the senior officials of both the states; matters of mutual interest, like drug trafficking and crimes, should be given priority in these discussions, rather than matters of conflict and controversies. Second, both countries need to view each other through a broader lens building their relationship in an all-inclusive manner. For example, rather than focusing on narrow strategic interests, both countries need to enhance economic relations.
In the same way, America needs to invest in Pakistan’s markets to strengthen the relations. Similarly, Pakistan needs to learn technical know-how from the American industries to strengthen its industrial development. Moreover, to “do more” but to improve their mutual relations, the two have to broaden their vision and focus on their relationship without the Indian, Chinese, or – most importantly – Afghan influence. In the end, trilateral relations between Pakistan, Afghanistan, and America will be developed by bringing the three countries on a single page through cooperation and compromise. All these measures are crucial to establishing regional peace and overcoming the mistrust and issues prevalent between Pakistan and America.
In a strong analysis, the US-Pakistan post-Afghanistan withdrawal relations could be called the diplomatic equivalent of a lousy marriage – where none of the partners is willing to let the other go, whether due to benefits or strategic dependency. Moreover, history shows that the two countries, especially the U.S., have always focused only on their vested interests rather than considering the other’s needs and situations. Moreover, Pakistan’s dependency on America since its inception has made it weak in the superpower’s eyes, making it suffer the American pressure socially, politically, and economically. Hence, the ad hoc changes in their foreign policies have cultivated an ever-growing trust deficit between the countries. Both countries, as a result, no longer consider each other reliable long-term partners.
In a nutshell, the Pak-US relations have suffered the most in the past two decades because of the Afghan war. Likewise, the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan has further worsened the already prevalent trust deficit between the two states. As a result, grave complications have arisen for both Pakistan and America regarding their foreign policies towards each other – a lack of communication and compromise being the two big reasons. To this end, certain measures have become inevitable in restoring the Pak-US peace and trust; diplomacy, economic incentives on Pakistan’s side, and broadening the vision on the American side are some of the ways forward to counter the challenges.
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