Torrid times ahead

Pakistan News 0 Comment 2

The temperature really is rising in the ever-volatile atmosphere of Pakistan-US relations.

With US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson due in country towards the end of the month and allegedly coming with hard words, the US Defence Secretary has entered the debate about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It will be recalled that the US was opposed to CPEC from the outset, and it remains opposed.

The opposition is in line with the rebranding of its relationship with India in the context of futures in Afghanistan. Defence Secretary Mattis has told Congress that CPEC passes through a disputed area; and that the actions of China in creating the One Belt, One Road project of which CPEC is a small but vital part ‘shows the vulnerability of trying to establish that sort of dictate’.

In part this is the sound of geopolitical tectonics rearranging themselves as China plays an increasingly assertive role in the region as well as in the Indian Ocean. It is also symbolic of the change in the relationship between the subcontinent and the US. America needs to hang on to the relationship with Pakistan as it is a vital route of supply for both the Americans and the Afghans.

Although the so-called ‘northern route’ can be used in the event of Pakistan blocking access; it is ruinously expensive and requires considerable diplomatic effort to keep the countries through which the northern route passes on-side with the deal.

With Pakistan being newly foot-forward since Prime Minister Abbasi came to power the temperature could rise further if the Trump administration decided to tighten the screws over the ‘safe havens’ issue and all the indications are that it will.

For Pakistan to take advantage of opportunities with the Americans it needs to stop throwing them bones to chew on. A good start would be to fall back from the position of denial in respect of an Islamic State presence, accept a new reality and act decisively on it — soon.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2017.

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The post Torrid times ahead appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Source: Tribune News | Torrid times ahead

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