Pakistan and the US; Next Steps in Relationship
Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan
October 14, 2021
The Centre for Strategic Perspectives (CSP) at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI), organized a web talk under its Ambassadors’ Platform titled, “Pakistan and the US; Next Steps in Relationship.” The speaker at the talk was Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US, Dr. Asad Majeed Khan. Following the Ambassador’s talk, Dr. Rifaat Hussain, Professor of Public Policy, National University of Sciences and Technology, Islamabad and Dr. Rabia Akhtar, Director Centre for Security, Strategy and Policy Research at the University of Lahore offered their reflections as discussants. The talk was moderated by Director General ISSI, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry.
Dr Neelum Nigar, Director CSP in her opening remarks stated that the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan provides an important opportunity for Pakistan to reassess its relations with the US in light of shared interests and shared priorities.
Ambassador Khan while shedding light on the state of affairs of Pakistan-US relations stated that the events of the past few decades have essentially made Pakistan-US relations a security centric relationship. He was of the view that the Biden administration inherited a lot of unprecedented issues and problems including the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan. The collapse of the Afghan National Army came as a surprise for the US. This has also given rise to internal finger-pointing in the US generating a sentiment of reflection and introspection. While talking about Pakistan-US relations Ambassador Khan opined that Afghanistan will remain the primary and principal subject of conversation between the two capitals. Over the years, Pakistan has reduced its dependence on the economic and military assistance that the US once provided; Pakistan has been on the giving end in the context of providing and facilitating the peace process. While talking about the official mood in the US, Ambassador Khan stated that the conversations between the two countries remain cordial, however there are two additional stress points on the relationship; US-China escalation and US-India strategic partnership. Concluding his remarks Ambassador Khan said that the bilateral interactions between the two capitals are gaining momentum on multiple tracks including climate change and clean energy.
Dr. Rifaat Hussain while making his remarks stated that Afghanistan will remain the main driver for the conversations between the two capitals. He raised caution on the current Indian mindset and attitude that encourages fighting war on two fronts and questioned the stalemate that is present at the highest level of the leadership. He was of the view that there is tremendous ambiguity that exists in the US Congress as well as in the Pentagon about the kind of relationship the US wants with Pakistan.
Dr. Rabia Akhtar in her remarks stated that today Pakistan is free of tags with regards to its relationship with the US with the breaking of the Af-Pak prism and the Indo-Pak dehyphenation. She was of the view that Pakistan’s identity for the first time is not help up by any tag and this opportunity should be used to craft an independent foreign policy with a focus on regional connectivity, completion of CPEC projects, as well as building back its economy.
Ambassador Aizaz Chaudhry summed up the discussions and concluded the meeting with a vote of thanks to Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan.