COAS to US : Changing dynamics

Omer Wazir

The relationship between Pakistan and United States has been and continues to be complex and varied. Throughout Pakistan’s brief history, the two countries have oscillated from an uneasy alignment, to nearly a complete detachment, to re-alignment, then to renewed sanctions, and now back to being allies.During the periods of cooperation, both countries had compelling coincident interests and generally overlooked past or ongoing differences.The global war on terrorism has provided the most current opportunity for establishing a close and lasting US- Pakistan relationship. However, the war neither limits the relationship’s scope nor necessarily overcomes the attendant bilateral challenges that could erode the relationship in the future.With Pakistan being an unwelcome addition to the nuclear regime, a crucial partner in the war on terrorism, and with a volatile political and social environment, the United States faces a broad range of foreign policy challenges when dealing with Pakistan. Moreover, U.S. policy choices toward Pakistan have to be integrated with broader regional policies as the relationships between the regional actors and the global role of South Asia undergoes rapid changes.

Different visits of Pakistani officials to U.S in previous few months have showed that how circumstances are changing in the region. Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif have visit the United States last month for talks with senior US military commanders and defense officials.Gen Sharif have visit to the US on a personal invitation from Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Martin Dempsey. The visit also marks the first formal consultations between the top military brass of the two countries afterSept 30, when the United States and Afghanistan signed a bilateral treaty agreement.The agreement paves the way for deployment some 10,000 US troops scheduled to remain in Afghanistan after a UN-sponsored international combat mission ends on Dec 31. This agreement will have a direct impact on Pakistan’s efforts to combat terrorism in the areas bordering Afghanistan. Pakistan strongly supported the US-Afghan agreement on extending the deployment of American troops in Afghanistan,because sudden withdrawal will have dangerous consequences for the entire region, especially for Pakistan. The Pakistanis feel that the agreement have many implications for their country and have discuss those implications for the peace and proesperity of Pakistan. The purpose of the visit is to take military to military relations to a higher level because that is very much important as the dynamics are changing quite frequently.

Pakistan’s nuclear program is once again the focus of discussions in the US capital as Army Chief Raheel Sharif prepares to visit Washington next week.Reports in the US media, and by think tanks, however, suggest that both sides have already taken clear positions on this issue in the previous visits by Raheel Sharif as well as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The Americans want Pakistan to stop making tactical weapons, halt the development of long-range missiles and sign the nuclear test ban treaty.Pakistanis link their nuclear program to the security threat they face from India, want the Americans to sign a civil nuclear deal with Islamabad and help it join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). The visit will focus on strategic issues. Tactical issues are discussed at lower levels. US concerns about Pakistan’s nuclear program are very much clear and the United States urged all nuclear capable states, including Pakistan, to exercise restraint regarding nuclear weapons and their missile capabilities.We have ongoing dialogues where we encourage efforts to strengthen safety and security measures on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program.

This visit is of strategical importance for the whole region of South Asia. The role of Pakistan in this scenario cannot be neglect able. Pakistan has also continued to be a source of both regional instability and international concern. Its in the eyes of US Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US forces. After the US pullout from Afghanistan, Pakistan can play either a negative or a positive role. The US still needs the support of Pakistan for bringing normalcy in Afghanistan. In the wake of recent threats from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Pakistan has attained more importance.Pakistan has profound implications for the future. Both states depend on each other in areas related to their national interests. The US is in dire need of Pakistan’s political, diplomatic and military help to deal with the terror groups posing a serious threat to the region’s stability. It also wants to prevent the hegemony of China while in return Islamabad looks for military and economic assistance from Washington. Presently, no one is sure about the results of the strategic dialogue. However, it is a good sign that the US is still engaging with Pakistan with an eye to the future. However, it is premature to attempt to predict the outcome of the present interaction. Time will show that how this visit will effect the strategic condition of a region.

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