The Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad, (ISSI) organised a Public Talk titled, “Pakistan and US Relations in Jeopardy: Way Forward” on January 29, 2018 The guest speaker at the talk was Dr. Moeed Yusuf, Assistant Vice President, Asia Centre, United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington, D.C.
Welcoming the guest speaker, Chairman ISSI, Ambassador Khalid Mahmood said that Pakistan-US relations at present are in jeopardy and it is a subject of great debate and discussion. Although some may say that the current dynamics of Pakistan-US relations is a new development – it is not. In 2011, the Aspen Institute did a report which foreshadowed what is happening today. Events such as the Afghan Strategy announced by the Trump administration which was largely a South Asia strategy, followed by the National Security Strategy in December 2017, Trump’s tweet in January 2018 and the most recent National Defence Strategy all corroborate with the Aspen report. All these strategies reflect the contours of US policy and the element of divergence of interest policies between Pakistan and US, and shows lack of trust between both the nations. Pakistan and US have been the most ally of the allies, and at the same time, the most sanctioned country in the world. However, relationship under President Trump has hit a new low. The only new development that one can see is by comparing last year’s strategy reports and this year’s National Defence Strategy report. There is a shift in Trump administration’s approach to countries from collaborating with against terrorism, to interstate strategic competition – which appears to be a priority now. The issue of terrorism has been placed on second position, prioritizing interstate competition of US with China and Russia. This new development also impacts Pakistan, as the country stands today at the wrong side of US because of its ties with China. Another important factor that Ambassador Khalid Mahmood highlighted was the building up of frustration in US which is due to lack of success it has achieved in Afghanistan after being at war for 17 years.