- Unrealistically sanguine as ever
Days before the Indian elections PM Imran Khan thought there might be a better chance of peace talks with India if Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP won the elections. Months later, expecting to reset the relationship between the USA and Pakistan after “a great meeting” with US President Donald Trump in Washington, Mr Khan hoped this would facilitate a peaceful solution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. On the eve of President Trump’s visit to India in February 2020, an equally starry-eyed Foreign Office spokesperson hoped the offer of mediation made by President Trump “will be taken forward through some concrete practical steps.”
The trend of selling illusions to the public has not come to an end. President-elect Joe Biden, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi Qureshi told the Senate on Tuesday, “is well aware of the region and can help resolve the Kashmir issue.” Can he?
The PTI leadership, it appears, has no realization that the US policy in the region is dictated by strategic needs. The US strategy in South Asia requires Washington to bolster India against China which it considers its arch competitor. India is more than willing to play the role. In the case of India, whatever difference one can expect after the regime change in the USA is likely to be in tone rather than substance. While Trump looked the other way as Modi suppressed dissent with an iron hand in India and arrested Kashmiri leaders and locked down the entire occupied Kashmir, Biden might at best mildly protest over actions of the sort without changing policy.
The USA considers Pakistan a transactional ally. It will require Islamabad to support its Afghan policy devised under the new President and delink itself from terrorist networks. To achieve its aims Washington will continue its stick and carrot policy.
While it should seek good relation with the USA, the PTI government must not allow the country’s ties with China to weaken or yield to any pressure on the CPEC. What is more, it has to continue support to the Kashmiris’ struggle for self-determination. For this the government needs national unity which would remain a dream unless it drops its vindictive policy towards the opposition.