The love-hate tale of relations between US and Pakistan has remained one of the highlights of South Asian politics. Both countries share an enriched history of instances when their interest converged, as during the Afghan Jihad and defeat of USSR; and events where their interests diverged, as was during war on terror and killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. The nosedive pattern of relations during the presidency of Trump is also a diplomatic pause for both Pakistan and the US.
It is pertinent to draw parallels from the ideological basis of US President and commitment to mutual cooperation of Imran Khan in order to provide a ground for policy makers in both countries to chart out areas for interaction
International relations are built on the basis of mutual respect and cooperation between states in order to maintain harmony and stability towards peaceful progress. But this has rarely been the case when it comes to the diplomatic relations between US and Pakistan. In their case, circumstances actually shaped their moves towards each other. Due to this dependency on the circumstances, both countries remain unable to cherish their relations in a true spirit. By living in today’s highly globalized world, it is also a fact that neither Pakistan nor US can adopt a policy of total negligence towards one another. Hence, it is imperative to deliberate on the prospect of cooperation and mutual respect between the two countries in the backdrop of the incoming democratic setup in Pakistan. This relational equation also needs reformation because President Donald Trump believes in a bilateral nature of international relations, while the Prime Minister to be Imran Khan also vowed in his victory speech that his government will likely go hand in hand with the US based on mutual basis and understanding. It is pertinent to draw parallels from the ideological basis of US President and commitment to mutual cooperation of Imran Khan in order to provide a ground for policy makers in both countries to chart out areas for interaction. It would be sustainable for both countries if policy makers avoid any event or time bound policy for future. Some of these areas are discussed below.
Pak-US Knowledge Corridor
Both countries bilaterally signed an MoU in 2015 for the first time to produce PhD’s by sending them for higher education in American Universities. In June 2015, the US and Pakistan established an Education, Science and Technology Working Group (ESTWG) under the Bilateral Strategic Dialogue. During an official visit of the Prime Minister of Pakistan to meet with President Obama and other US officials on October 22, 2015, the two leaders discussed the proposal to establish US-Pakistan Knowledge Corridor. They directed their respective governments to intensify their cooperation in this important framework to achieve the ambitious priority targets of developing high level human capital envisioned in Pakistan’s policy document Vision 2025. According to the Vision 2025, 10000 Pakistani scholars will join US universities in next ten years as an effort of the Government of Pakistan to train its faculty resources in identified subject areas. This forum has much room to engage academicians and researchers from both sides to create an environment for engagement by excluding political elite from both sides. This way of interaction would increase intellectual productivity by decreasing misunderstanding present on both sides.
Conundrum of Afghanistan
The peace and stability in Afghanistan is in interest of Pakistan and US as well. The US Government must realise some principle of dealing within Afghanistan and Pakistan in the Afghan context. First, the US needs to adopt a policy of restraint in blaming Pakistan over instability in Afghanistan. Secondly, it has to redefine its strategies in Afghanistan in terms of intelligence failure. Thirdly, US must encourage the Afghan Government to take responsibility of the Afghan territory by creating capacity for counter-terrorist plans, nation building and poverty alleviation. Fourthly, the viable solution in Afghanistan is only possible if the Afghans engage in a dialogue process completely which must be realised by the US as well as Pakistan.
The field of e-business has the potential to help Pakistan in bringing down unemployment and inflation by creating a medium of doing business with new graduates in Pakistan.
Scientific and Technology sharing
It is important to highlight here that both countries do not have any agreement that enable them to share scientific and technological knowledge and information with each other. Establishing avenues in this area would help in dissemination of scientific knowledge. Incoming cabinet under Imran Khan must identify areas in scientific cooperation between both countries, particularly aerospace and robotics. In addition to it, Pakistan can enter into an agreement with US companies in the field of computer technology and e-business. The field of e-business has the potential to help Pakistan in bringing down unemployment and inflation by creating a medium of doing business with new graduates in Pakistan.
The democratic system and presence of local bodies in Pakistan can take help from the community development practices that are in place in the US for the welfare at the grass-root level. The cooperation at this level can be achieved by entering a plan of actions between the state government and the provincial government agreement in Pakistan.
It may be naïve to think about engagement with the US Government at multiple levels at this point of time due to constant allegations thrown by the White House towards Islamabad over instability in Afghanistan. But for the incoming Pakistani Government, it is plausible to cooperate with the US Government at many avenues in order to progress and accrue advantage in fields other than security and defence. Moreover, both countries should build a gradual and sustainable model of relations which is not susceptible to the dirty geo-politics of South Asia.