American politics are dominated by two major parties; Democrats and the Republicans. Democrats are mostly known to be the left-wing party, due to their firm belief in liberalism and equality. However, the Republicans are known to the right-wing party based on their nationalistic views.
Shedding light on the diplomatic relationship between the US and America we see no consistent pattern. At the time of Pakistan’s independence the US was fighting a cold war with the Soviet Union, under the Democratic administration led by Harry Truman. This made Liaquat Ali Khan’s introductory visit to either the US or Russia a much debated topic. However, Truman’s invitation and Khan’s consequent visit on May 5th, 1950 was a clear indication that Pakistan was looking to bond long term ties with the US. This visit is marked as the starting point of the diplomatic terms between the two nations.
However future ties between the two nations oscillated between poles until, 1979 when Russia invaded Afghanistan. This marked the inception of a serious military alliance between Pakistan and US, where Washington’s primary intention was to use Pakistani grounds to supply arms and ammunition to help Afghanistan fight the Soviets. For this, Jimmy Carter offered General Zia-ul-Haq a monetary sum which was rejected, and it wasn’t until the Republicans came to power that the deal got executed.
Since 1979 till date, Pakistan has held geographic significance for the US, either as a ground link to Afghan battlefields or as an observer base to keep an eye on closely located China and Iran. And for this Washington allocates special funds for Pakistan every year.
Between 1992 and 2000 US was headed by the Democratic leader, Bill Clinton while on the other side Benazir and Nawaz Sharif took alternate terms in these eight years. The main and the most pressing issue at that time was Pakistan’s nuclear development. However, neither Benazir or Nawaz Sharif signed on to the Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty despite having to embargoes and sanctions. Washington continued to extend friendly ties with neighbouring India throughout this time. Further, the bitterness between Pak-India relations lead Pakistan to test its nuclear weapons in 1998, following President Clinton’s sanctions on Pakistan. He is known to have said that, “Pakistan lost a truly priceless opportunity to strengthen its own security, to improve its political standing in the eyes of the world.”
In the 2000 elections, Republicans took charge of Washington until 2008 when Barack Obama, sworn as the 44th president of the US. While US-Pakistan links were still burdened by America’s war against terrorism in Afghanistan much of Obama’s talks with Pakistan centred around Al Qaida’s operations from Pakistan and finally Bin Ladin’s killing by US Navy SEAL’s in Abbotabad, Pakistan. Although there were great hopes that the two nations would be able to develop a deep and strategic alliance rather than one focused on military issues, all efforts went in vain.
The US is now once again headed by Democratic administration led by Joe Biden who has recently sworn in as the 46th president. Where his incumbent Trump might have known little about Pakistan before coming to power he on the other hand has paid several visits to the country as Obama’s vice president. Biden is a tenured politician with a deep understanding of the US-Pakistan relation. This brings great speculation on how the two nations will steer in the next four years.
The US holds the position of special financial ally for Pakistan, on the other hand Pakistan holds great significance as a military ally to the US. However the growing strength of Pakistan’s relations with China is a hard pill for the US to swallow. China and Pakistan have a well known and growing commercial link through, China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Iran and Russia have also joined CPEC which has resulted in further strengthening of the economic union. However, these nations have uneasy relations with the US and this is suspected to affect the ties between Islamabad and Washington.
Pakistan receives funds from the US in terms of counter terrorism grants and it is also its second largest foreign direct investor. However, China is the largest FDI for Pakistan. Secondly, Pakistan and China have a common political opponent-India. Based on which Islamabad’s terms with Beijing hold crucial rank.
The occurrence of Covid has further deteriorated the economic condition of Pakistan, in addition to the $112.8 billion, external debt that had already burdened the economy. China has provided extensive financial backing through this difficult time while the IMF has constantly pressured Pakistan. This has made things much critical for Pakistan.
Under the current US political atmosphere, we see that Biden’s knowledge of Pakistan is far deeper than that of Trump. He was a chief architect in drafting the Kerry Lugar Bill in 2009. This bill is criticised for its clause where effective civilian control over the military was to be reported to US congress twice a year. This clearly shows that Biden’s military views towards Pakistan are no different than any of his predecessors. However, the only differentiating factor is the United State’s decision to plunge out of Afghanistan.
Further, Trump’s inward policy of America first is in contrast with Biden’s openness to foreign links based on which he is expected to formulate more practical policies.
Some of the more critical questions to look forward to include Washington’s ties with New Delhi. Under Trump’s administration India and the US made multi million deals and no clear stance was presented in terms of Kashmir.
A vivid picture of how terms will unfold between Islamabad and Washington is difficult to sketch due to the current focus on Covid and its aftermath. However, with Beijing and Iran knotting close ties with Islamabad, Washington might have less of a bargaining power.
Also, Imran Khan has penned down very clear plans for the economic revival of the country without any compromises based on financial deals. His policies are straight and upright and the country seems to be picking up its own pieces. Altogether, the current atmosphere for any diplomatic talks between the Islamabad and Washington is expected to be more strategic than solely anti-terrorism alliance.