Pakistan is seeking to reboot ties with the United States, end the “stalemate” of last few years and “remove ambiguities”, the country’s visiting finance minister Ishaq Dar has said ahead of his meeting with a senior member of the Trump administration.
Dar, a key aide of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, told The Wall Street Journal in an interview that he would also ask the help of “common friend”, the United States, to settle the dispute with India over Kashmir, in yet another attempt to seek third-party mediation long rejected by New Delhi.
“There seems to be a little bit of a stalemate in the last couple of years,” the minister told the Journal before an upcoming meeting with national security adviser Lt Gen HR McMaster here in DC. “We need to remove any ambiguities that we have between each other as friends.”
US-Pakistan relations have been in a downward spiral in recent years starting roughly around May 2011, when al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was found hiding in a residential neighbourhood just miles from an elite military school in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Ties have since been hit by one crisis after another, leading to steady erosion of public support for Pakistan and its continued failure to act decisively against terrorists operating from its soil, specially the Haqqani Network robbed it off whatever equity it had left with American officials and lawmakers.
In 2016, Republican and Democratic lawmakers came together to kill an Obama administration move to sell Pakistan eight F-16 fighter jets, citing Islamabad’s patchy record on counterterrorism, and calling the one-time ally “duplicitous” and a “frenemy”.
The Trump administration has been under pressure to adopt a tough line with Pakistan, and McMaster said during a recent visit to the region that Islamabad needs to go after terrorist groups “less selectively than they have in the past”.
On Kashmir, the minister, who comes as an emissary of Sharif, plans to seek US help as his country has for a long time now, despite Washington stating time and again it wants India and Pakistan to resolve the problem bilaterally.
“We expect the US as a common friend to facilitate, to encourage the issue is resolved amicably, in accordance with UN resolutions ASAP,” Dar told the Journal.
Islamabad probably wants to test the new administration, specially after recent remarks by US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley’s that the administration would like to get involved which was not held up by the state department.