Efforts go for normalization with the United States Contrary to some encouraging signs in relations with its arch-rival India, Pakistan’s current state of relationship with old ally and friend the United States continuously faces turbulence.
Indian Minister for External Affairs S. M. Krishna’s visit to Pakistan was a culmination of second round of resumed dialogue process between the two countries. Although Indian minister for external affairs visit to Pakistan was customary to `review’ the progress made in the second round, however the gestures aired and certain steps agreed in Pakistan have far-reaching implications. The two countries sticking to their respective positions on disputes notwithstanding, S. M. Krishna, however, tried to improve atmospherics in Pakistan. His visit to Minar-e-Pakistan is symbol of `recognition’ of Pakistan. Former prime minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee did leave such impressions back in 1999 when he was in Lahore.
The two countries signed much-delayed visa agreement in Islamabad. There is not much in the new visa agreement for the common people as well as opinion-makers like journalists, artists, academicians, etc. But still, visa issuance at arrival for aged person of 65 and above is a welcome step. Similarly, the issuance of multiple visas to the business community is a one step forward for enhancing economic and trade relations between the two countries.
Contrary to some encouraging signs in relations with its arch-rival India, Pakistan’s current state of relationship with old ally and friend the United States continuously faces turbulence. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani’s utterances of relationship back on track, there exists mistrust between them. It is nave to think that the two countries will return back to the relationship that existed during the cold war era. There are still a lot of convergences between the two to move forward.
The meeting between Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and Hillary Clinton in Washington on September 21was very important. The two sides seem recognising that they can achieve more when they work together on a focused agenda. They share the priority remains pursuing our joint counter-terrorism objectives to ensure the security of American and Pakistani citizens alike. They face a common threat from a common enemy, and they need to confront terrorism and extremism together instead of pointing fingers at each other. Pakistan’s parliament has called for expelling foreign fighters, if any on its soil, so that Pakistan’s territory can be fully under control of the Pakistani Government and cannot be used to launch attacks against other nations. Similarly, the `successful’ first meeting of the Safe Passage Working Group in Islamabad which brought together Afghan, Pakistani, and US representatives to advance the peace process in Afghanistan. The Pakistani government’s public call for insurgents to come forward and talk with the Afghan government was particularly important.
What is also very important within this architecture is the counter-terrorism cooperation that they can do together. The last few months, maybe the biggest negative externality of the dip in relations has been the counter-terrorism objectives of both the countries. They need to realise that terrorists of any type, breed, colour, anywhere, are a threat to Pakistan as much as they are a threat to anyone. And it is for that reason that Pakistan stands today at the vanguard, having made the most sacrifices in blood and treasure than any other country in the world, having lost 30,000 civilians, having lost 6,000 soldiers to this fight, having a huge economic cost. The United States and Pakistan today have a unique opportunity to be able to work together to ensure that there is no security vacuum left in Afghanistan. Pakistan and the United States have to ensure together that the Afghan people are able to decide for their own future and live as a sovereign, independent country which is a source of stability and peace in the region after a 30-long year bloodshed, violence and instability.