A bird’s eye view of the global geopolitical landscape will show that the US is a power in retreat. Burdened by a galloping public debt of US $22 Trillion, and counting, it is clearly ill-placed to carry on its role as the world’s undisputed policeman. It appears to be re assessing its position at the global level, its priorities and the allies it can gather who will do its bidding – at no extra cost to itself!
It is engaging Pakistan as part of its readjustment to such ground realities around the world. During this Trump-IK summit it will apparently engage Pakistan in the geopolitical, geostrategic and the geo-economic dimensions, especially with regard to the Greater Middle East (GMER) and the South-Central Asia Regions (SCAR)!
At the Asia level the US has no firm footprint anywhere from Syria to South Korea and everywhere in between. It has literally bombed the entire GMER into smithereens pursuing totally Israel-centric policies there. The KSA-led Arabs however pledge undisguised loyalty to it as it moves to coerce Iran, their avowed adversary, decisively; failing which it has mustered its forces to bludgeon it into submission.
In the SCAR the US wants to engage Pakistan vis a vis Afghanistan and India. It wants to extricate itself, honorably, from Afghanistan. It wants to bring the doomed Afghan Campaign to an acceptable closure. The US has shown undisguised concern too at the ingress that China has made into Pakistan and by implication into the SCAR with its CPEC-BRI projects. China’s CPEC-BRI threaten the US’ pre-eminence as the sole global economic power. It wants to prop up India to balance out China’s growing sphere of influence in the SCAR and beyond. However, India is taking its time to come around while making things all the more difficult for the US by clinging on to the coattails of Russia. Furthermore, India’s government and military are totally Pakistan-centric and thus irretrievably pegged to the Indo-Pak subcontinent. Its most vital national interest is to impose its unquestionable will on Pakistan. Period. (Not happening!). The US would like to see things ease up between Pakistan and India to allow India the freedom of action to concentrate on rather balancing out China – a US strategic interest in the region and globally too.
So, the US will be interested in seeing Pakistan play a role in the GMER stand off between itself and Iran. It and the KSA-led Arabs would like to see nuclear Pakistan take an unequivocal stand in their favor. The US might be interested to create further pressures on Iran from the East, through the Jaish e Adl, if not Pakistan. Pakistan must ensure a studied neutrality in this US (mis)adventure. It must not allow its territory or its facilities to be used for or against any of the belligerents.
On Afghanistan it needs Pakistan’s help in not only making a smooth egress from the region but to also leave behind a regime that not only snuffs out all forms of terrorism from Afghanistan but also is at peace with itself and the region. Pakistan has done a lot to help out the US and bring peace to blighted Afghanistan; it should continue doing so. It ought to be suitably rewarded for this gross favor.
Furthermore, the US would like to sound out Pakistan on its relationship with China and in particular the Sino-Pak debt situation. The US will also like to know where Pakistan stood on the CPEC-BRI and offer easy credit facilities from the IFIs were it to go-slow on the CPEC and by implication the BRI. Pakistan ought to know better than trust the US which such outlandish projects. The US might also want to talk of the Indo-Pak issues and see where it can possibly help. However, the underlying caveat would always be that Pakistan accepts India’s dominance and hegemony in the SCAR. That would mean the literal death of Pakistan as a nation.
PM IK must never compromise upon Pakistan’s sovereignty and independence of policy and action. He must take up with the US President economic issues like access to trade on favorable terms, economic aid, easy credit facilities from IFIs, especially the held-up CSF and the restart of military aid/sales. He must also ask for scholarships and access to leading Universities for Pakistani students and teachers. Pakistan must show willingness to facilitate regional connectivity and trade. However, where this facility to India is concerned it must be made a part of a quid pro quo, like settlement of outstanding issues like Kashmir as per the UN Resolution, IWT, Siachen, Sir Creek, cross-border terrorism from Afghanistan and Iran etc.
All said and done, Pakistan’s national interests must always reign supreme in whatever PM IK discusses in Washington. He must not forget. After Iran it could be nuclear Pakistan in the US’ cross hairs!
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