Is US losing its leverage over Pakistan? by News Desk
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Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said Pakistan is not dependent upon the US for its defense and other requirements. The Prime Minister, in an interview with Arab News, said that his country has to carry on the fight regardless of the changing sources and nature of support. “If one source dries up, we have no option but to go to another source. It may cost more, it may consume more resources, but we have to fight that war, and that’s what we emphasized to all the people that we met.”
During his campaign in the UNGA, Abbasi while conveying the country’s concerns to the US showed the willingness and the desire to maintain engagements with the US; this was evident by his meeting with Vice President Pence and the reconciliatory tone in his UNGA speech.
The region is likely to tread toward a series of battles in the overall great game between China and the US, of which CPEC will be an important flashpoint. However, after short-lived hopes of betterment in ties, things have started to simmer once again. The growing Indo-US defense relations which were bolstered by the recent visit of Defense Chief, James Mattis who incidentally became a cause of the second bone of contention between the two countries. The former four-star general said that CPEC treads through a disputed territory.
Seeing it as an open acceptance of India’s stance on CPEC, Pakistan has taken exceptions and rejected the assertions of CPEC being a threat to sovereignty. This will most likely offset the recent attempts to arrest a fraying relationship. While reiterating Pakistan’s efforts to rid the region of the menace of terrorism, Abbasi said: “Any sanctions or restraints… put on our systems only degrades our efforts to fight terror, and it affects the whole equation in this region”. The PPP also demanded a halt in normal proceedings to discuss Mattis and Karzai. One could argue that ties are back to square one between the two countries
The campaign to garner support against mounting US aggression. Buoyed by support from allies, Abbasi said: “the campaign major US weapons systems in our military, but we’ve also diversified. We have Chinese and European systems. Recently, for the first time, we inducted Russian attack helicopters.”
This downward spiral is also indicative of the inability of both countries to take their ties from the tactical and transactional level to the strategic level. The continuation of zero-sum diplomacy while ignoring multiple levels of engagement, Islamabad, and Washington are finding this marriage inconvenient, much against the interests of a peaceful and stable region.
Senator Sehar Kamran of the PPP filed a motion against Mattis’ statement on CPEC, calling it an attempt to sabotage the all-important project. Ms. Kamran also filed a motion seeking a debate on Karzai’s assertion regarding US’ support to the ISIS in Afghanistan. If one source dries up, we have no option but to go to another source. It may cost more, it may consume more resources, but we have to fight that war, and that’s what we emphasized to all the people that we met
The PPP also demanded a halt in normal proceedings to discuss Mattis and Karzai. One could argue that ties are back to square one between the two countries. This is attributable to the ratification of fears enunciated by Pakistan’s strategic fraternity regarding the Indo-US nexus. The sensitivity to the multi-billion dollars project has once again supplanted goodwill efforts with fiery rhetoric.
Lawmakers have once again taken a clear stand; it remains to be seen as to how both countries revive an important and needful partnership. However, the region is likely to tread toward a series of battles in the overall great game between China and the US, of which CPEC will be an important flashpoint.