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Staff Report

Morning Mail

Published Date: Mar 20, 2018

Govt urged to review ties with US

Pakistan must review its relationship with the US in view of own national interest, foreign policy experts said here on Monday while speaking at a seminar ‘United States and South Asian Policy: Challenges for Pakistan’.
The seminar was organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
They said that Pakistan’s relationship with the US was more of transactional nature and Pakistan always miscalculated its strategic partnership with the US.  The US interests in the past and today in South Asia totally contradict the national interests of Pakistan. The biggest issue of Pakistan’s foreign policy was that it did not have any foreign policy ever and react to the events in given situation, rather than proactively pursuing a well-thought of diplomacy.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MNA Shireen Mazari said that Pakistan had had very bizarre relationship with the US. “We miss-calculated our relationship with the US as our strategic ally, which proved wrong throughout different historic events such as containment of Communism, Cold War and Now containment of China,” she said, adding that all this was not in the interest of Pakistan, but of the US.
She said that building of India as a regional power, isolation of Iran and containment of China were the major US interests in the region of South Asia. “Our national interest did not converge with the interest of the US,” she said, adding that US can never be Pakistan’s natural strategic ally, though, issues might be of common nature but the interests are totally different.
Earlier, Ambassador (retd) Abdul Basit, President, Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) on the occasion said that mutual distrust, lack of convergence of interest and lack of mutual economic interest were the major contributing factors of the poor history of the US-Pakistan relationship. “Unfortunately, our foreign policy objectives were not pursued robustly,” he said, adding that our house was not working together on foreign policy front. He further said that Pakistan needs to behave as a mature nation rather reacting to the events.
Abdul Basit said lack of cohesion and lack of consistent policies were the major reason for poor and ineffective diplomacy. “During last four years, we have lost our space in the US diplomacy,” he said. The US approach and criticism towards CPEC and BRI was very much a lame excuse, he added.
Later, Imtiaz Gul, Senior Analyst said that Pakistan’s relationship with the US remained hostage throughout the history with fundamental differences. “Until fundamental changes sought in our relations with the US, there cannot be the normalisation of the relationship,” he said adding that Pakistan must capitalise its geo-strategic importance and re-define its relationship with the US and India.
Major General (Retd) Hafiz Masroor Ahmed, Vice President, Centre for Global and Strategic Studies, said that Pakistan should compromise its own national interest and continue strengthening its relation with China and Afghanistan. “The growing influence of India in Afghanistan is an increasing danger for Pakistan,” he said, adding that Pakistan should not be hostage of the US interests as a number of peace talks were sabotaged and destroyed by the US itself, which shows the US resolve to peace in the region. Pakistan experts need to sit together and well-coordinated response should be given to the US, he added.
Shakeel Ahmad, Director Research Uptake and Business Development, SDPI, summed up the discussion and said we are living in an era of unpredictability, where sequence of events has changed frequently. “South Asia as a region remains at the forefront of the United States’ regional interests and concerns,” he said, adding that Trump’s administration has brought a mix of change and continuity in the country’s foreign and security policies, including those in South Asia. Pakistan should continue reviewing its position with the changing scenario, he added.