Irshad Salim (MAMOSA Report) — Pakistan seeks to reset its ‘complicated’ relationship with the United States (US) as Washington still sees Islamabad critical to its efforts in Afghanistan and the broader region.
“There seems to be a little bit of a stalemate in the last couple of years,” Pakistan Finance Minister Ishaq Dar pointed out in in an interview with the Wall Street Journal published Wednesday while discussing Pak-US relations over the decade post 9/11.
The Trump administration is reviewing its policy toward Pakistan, the WSJ report said, citing an unnamed White House official.
Ishaq Dar, however, questioned the effectiveness of the US strategy in the region – a view held by several South Asian analysts.
Dar, who spoke to the influential newspaper ahead of his meeting with U.S. National Security Adviser Lt Gen H.R. McMaster, said, “We need to remove any ambiguities that we have between each other as friends.”
“We are very keen to contribute whichever way we can to support this peace effort,” he said, referring to the US.
Earlier this month, in a move signaling a shift in US policy in Afghanistan and the region under Trump administration, the American military dropped “Mother of All Bombs (MOAB)’ — one of its largest non-nuclear bombs on an IS complex in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Nangahar close to Pakistan’s western border — the tribal belt.
“Let’s face it, there hasn’t been great success in the operations in Afghanistan in the last decade-plus since 9/11,” Dar pointed out in the interview.
Pakistan, Dar said, believes an ‘Afghan-owned, Afghan-led’ political solution is probably the ultimate solution.
“I’m sure the new administration will be looking into this. I think we need to sit together and see where the flaws are.”
Dar, a close relative of PM Nawaz Sharif, said Pakistan wants the Trump administration to help resolve the decades-old Kashmir dispute with India. Pakistan’s military views Kashmir as Pakistan’s jugular vein.
At the World Economic Forum in January, the former army chief Raheel Sharif called reiterated “Kashmir, Kashmir, Kashmir” being key to peace in the region and friendship with India.
The Trump administration last month said it is willing to mediate the festering dispute for the valley long considered a nuclear flashpoint, but India, Pakistan’s eastern neighbor, rejected it.
Both neighbors have disputed the territory for nearly 70 years – since independence from Britain. Both claim the whole territory but control only parts of it.
Two out of three wars fought between India and Pakistan centered on Kashmir.
Since 1989 there has been an armed revolt in the Muslim-majority region against rule by India.
High unemployment and complaints of heavy-handed tactics by Indian security forces battling street protesters and fighting insurgents have aggravated the problem.