Khan and Trump: Two Reasonable Men Adapting Themselves to the World

According to George Bernard Shaw the reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.  It is obviously true that relationship between states is based on interests. Achieving peace in Afghanistan without a military solution has become the corner stone of Trump’s Afghan policy therefore the United States needs Pakistan.  Trump was opposed to the long Afghan war during his Presidential campaign therefore as the US elections draw close peace talks are aggressively being pursued in Afghanistan.  Likewise Pakistan always believes that peace in Afghanistan is essential for the peace and prosperity of the entire region. Moreover, resetting the U.S-Pak relations is of much importance for Pakistan as no state in the international system can totally survive in isolation.  Therefore both Khan and Trump seem to be doing their best in adapting themselves to circumstances by trying to reset the relationship between the two states.  Analysts in Pakistan were initially apprehensive of prime minister’s visit to the US considering Trumps dissatisfaction with Pakistan and vice versa. However, both the leaders contrary to their public persona of being discontent have adapted to circumstances which demand cooperation. Prime Minister’s visit to the US has been viewed successful by most of the Pakistani analysts in terms of highlighting the Afghan problem and the Kashmir issue.  Pakistan’s role in the Afghan peace process began last year with Alice Wells visit to Pakistan. There is no denying the fact that Pakistan has been successful in bringing the US and the Taliban to the negotiating table.

US President Donald Trump meets with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (L) in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, on July 22, 2019. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP)

The Afghan peace talks have been successful considering the fact that both the US and the Taliban have experienced some degree of success during Qatar talks. The United States has agreed to the Taliban’s demand of pulling its forces out of Afghanistan.  However, setting time table is a matter of concern as the Taliban wants the US to leave in nine months whereas the US needs two years to withdraw. In accordance with the US demand the Taliban will have to abandon relations with Al-Qaeda and ISIS. Furthermore in compliance with the US demand the Taliban will not allow the Afghan soil to be used in organizing terrorist activities against any state.  According to most of the Pakistani analysts Imran Khan and Donald Trump’s recent meeting is only a small step in the right direction.

Besides demanding Pakistan’s help in achieving ceasefire the US wants Pakistan to create a negotiating environment for the Taliban and Afghan government. How lasting the US- Pak relations will actually turn out to be is totally dependent on Pakistan’s performance in achieving the US objectives in the region. Some US analysts have rejected the prospect of a reset in US –Pak relations owing to the US dissatisfaction with Pakistan’s crackdown on militant groups and Pak- China ties.  However, some analysts in Pakistan believe that President Trump and the US establishment are not on the same page regarding Afghanistan.  Pakistan has also demanded that the Afghan government should not support Pakistani Taliban in attacking Pakistan. Furthermore, the Afghan government should not support the Baloch separatist groups backed by India.   President Trump’s claim that Narendra Modi wants the US to mediate the Kashmir issue has become a heated debate in India.  The Indian media has out rightly rejected Trump’s remarks regarding Modi’s desire of having the US as a mediator in the longstanding Kashmir issue. In light of Trump’s claim some Indian analysts suggest that  India will by no means start a dialogue with Pakistan honoring President Trump‘s claim.  It is believed that India will react to Trump’s claim by being harsher on the Kashmir issue.   Conversely the Pakistan’s media has applauded President Trump for mentioning the violence in Kashmir.  In order to ignore the violence in Kashmir the Indian media only focuses on cross border terrorism. However, this time the mention of Kashmir issue by the US president has surely disappointed India.  Building peace in Afghanistan without a military solution is a big challenge on the part of Pakistan.  In case the Afghan Peace Talks turn out to be successful India might be questioned that is use of force the only solution for Kashmir issue.  Lasting peace in Afghanistan is the foundation of a reset in the US- Pak relations.  Therefore, Imran Khan’s visit to Washington should only be seen as US- Pak cooperation in Afghanistan rather than a reset in US- Pak ties.



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