WASHINGTON - Relations between Pakistan and the United States are marked by “irreconcilable” differences but both countries need each other and want to keep channels open to cooperate on tactical matters and ensure linkages, a Washington Post report said quoting foreign policy experts.
Ties between the two countries have come under stress after President Trump accused Pakistan of not fully cooperating in the fight against terrorism and the US State Department announced to withhold security assistance to the country which has been on the forefront of the global fight against terrorism.
Foreign policy experts say that both the countries have now realized that there are irreconcilable differences when it comes to strategic goals but they need each other and need to work on tactical matters and maintain linkages.
Without quoting any sources, the WP report said that there had been contacts at military and diplomatic levels in recent weeks and the officials have been able to partly “patched things up.”
Analysts say that both the countries have acknowledged differences that are incompatible but at the same time accepted that both need to work together to achieve common goals.
Citing examples of divergent strategic interests, the report said that India is Pakistan’s long-time rival but the US sees its an emerging “democratic partner and strategic ally.”
“They have given up on strategic convergence, but they want to keep the channels open so they can cooperate on tactical matters and ensure the relationship does not totally rupture,” the WP report said quoting Moeed Yusuf, a South Asia expert at the U.S. Institute for Peace in Washington.
Pakistan has strongly denied accusation that it is discriminating in dealing with terrorist groups. There have been several military operations in recent years which have forced terrorist groups to flee to neighbouring Afghanistan from where they are plotting actions and terrorist activities.
“There is no panic in Islamabad – rather, a carefully calibrated, mature and unemotional response to the US move to cut-off aid,” the paper said quoting Senator Mushahid Husssain, who warned that America’s “bellicosity” and its increasing ties with India could trigger a new Cold War.
The report said that there had been high-lever quiet contacts between the two countries citing recent visits by US officials, including Gen Joseph L Votel, commander of the U.S. Central Command who, it said, told the military leadership that the current “turbulence” in bilateral relations was a “temporary phase.”
Foreign policy experts and diplomats have also advised the two countries to keep their channels open and accept the ground realities that both countries need to cooperate for pragmatic reasons.
The report quoted a recent article by Richard Olson, an ex-ambassador to Pakistan, who cautioned that US sanctions would not work given the size of Pakistan’s military strength and its national pride. He also warned that the US was depended on Pakistan to transport supplies to its troops in Afghanistan and if Islamabad cut those road linkages, the US military could become a “beached whale.”
A senior US State Department also visited Pakistan recently as part of efforts to “mend fences,” the report said, adding that the message from these high-level contacts is that both countries should not close doors for each other even if they have divergent strategic interests.