Carpe Diem: How Should Pakistan Proceed Post US Elections

November 2020 will decide the course of action for the United States – and the world to some extent – for the next four years. The US election will pit the Republican candidate Donald Trump, seeking re-election, against the Democratic candidate, and former Vice-President of eight years, Joe Biden. Considering the worsening situation of COVID-19 in the US, the elections might take an unconventional turn.

United States’ foreign policy during Trump years

President Trump took the American status-quo by storm when he displayed his unwavering resolve to pull back the American troops from foreign soil. Maintenance of US troops on foreign lands has been one of the cornerstones of American foreign policy, which ensures compliance of the subject nations in difficult times. Breaking the tradition, President Trump proceeded further with his agendas, and was able to set the groundwork for the most concrete Afghan peace deal to be presented since the conflict began.

President Trump in the White House and Pakistan

Pakistan anticipated a change in the approach of White House back in 2016 when Donald Trump was elected. Trump added verbal fire to the “Do More” mantra and attempted to brow-beat Pakistan into compliance. However, much to their dismay, the revitalised foreign policy of Pakistan did not give in to the pressure. The consequence was a considerable softening of tensions, accumulating into the one-on-one meeting of the leaders of both countries.  

President Trump realised the importance of Pakistan if he wanted to deliver on his promise of pulling out US troops from Afghanistan. Pakistan reciprocated this rekindled confidence and did not leave any stone unturned in its efforts to restore peace to the region.

Furthermore, to the chagrin of Pakistan’s arch-rival India, Mr. Trump also proposed to help in resolving the Kashmir issue between the two nations. A proposal which was hailed by the Pakistani side, but equally opposed by India.

Future of American foreign policy

Despite the disturbing tweets of President Donald Trump, his approach towards international diplomacy has breathed an unconventional air into American foreign policy. Managed previously by foreign aids and coercions, Mr. Trump made economic benefits directly proportional to its overseas goals. This realignment sounds harsher than it really is. It lifted the ages-old pressure from Pakistan’s shoulders to comply with unrealistic and indecisive US demands.

The Democrat Party’s obsession with overseas interests could jeopardize the Afghan Peace Process. It could also alienate the Asian region, thereby, changing the dynamics of Pak-US relations.

If Donald Trump gets reelected, then it can be expected that Pak-US relations could continue down the normalisation road. However, if Joe Biden makes it to the top, then the situation could take any turn. The Democrat Party’s obsession with overseas interests could jeopardize the Afghan Peace Process. It could also alienate the Asian region, thereby, changing the dynamics of Pak-US relations.

It goes without saying that American involvement in any region for the sake of democracy and peace has mostly led to death and destruction. Regardless of Joe Biden’s personal inclinations towards non-intervention ideals, he just does not possess the personality to set his foot down in the wake of the “hawkish” foreign policy goals. Therefore, if Joe Biden is elected, then there is a high chance of the American foreign policy to revert to its brute-yet-confused state.

How Pakistan should proceed with the US after the latter’s elections

The art of diplomacy is to work with an uncooperative partner and reach one’s goals. Regardless of who ends up in the White House, Pakistan must have a clear vision of what it aims to achieve from its much-persuasive ally. Pak-US relations could reach new heights in the wake of a successful Afghan peace deal. The aftermath of this milestone will present an opportune moment for Pakistan to exploit its favourable position.

Pakistan has quite a few issues which demand a fresh revisiting, for instance the much-contested Kashmir issue and the terror financing problems. Pakistan could leverage its status of a “good” ally with the US and demand the latter’s impartial mediation on the issue. Despite India’s economic ties, it has been established that peace in the region is not possible without Pakistan’s backing. So, the US ought to reconsider its position between India and Pakistan.

Regardless of who ends up in the White House, Pakistan must have a clear vision of what it aims to achieve from its much-persuasive ally. Pak-US relations could reach new heights in the wake of a successful Afghan peace deal.

Terror financing has also troubled Pakistan for quite some time. In spite of the fact that Pakistan has outlawed numerous banned organizations and has introduced strict financial monitoring policies, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) does not seem to budge from its apprehensions for Pakistan’s counterterrorism measures. There seems to be a political factor involved in this equation. The US could help ease these tensions between Pakistan and the FATF.

Pakistan could also replay its role of a mediator for the normalisation of relations between the People’s Republic of China and the US, just like it did in the 1970s. The chances of a direct confrontation are writing on the wall since the deterioration of trade relations between both sides. Continuous criticism and intervention into each other’s spheres could culminate to a point of no return. Therefore, before such situation arises, Pakistan can step-in and offer its help as it enjoys relatively good relations with both sides. Successful execution of this plan could elevate Pakistan’s position in the international circles.

In conclusion, the upcoming US elections can bear unpredictable results. Since Pakistan cannot control these results, it ought to devise plans to tackle any numbers of situations. The positive prospects of the Afghan peace deal and Pakistan’s constructive role has underscored the latter’s indispensable position in ensuring global peace. Pakistan must seize this opportunity and build on it for improved Pak-US relations.

Vyas Ali Rajput

Vyas Ali Rajput

Vyas Ali Rajput is a graduate of Public Administration from NUST. He currently works as a Research Associate at the Ministry of Human Rights, Pakistan. He can be reached at vyas.ali.var@gmail.com.

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