PAK-US STRATEGIC DIALOGUE
Pakistan-Afghanistan relationship has been a victim of conflicting interests. The two have never been at ease with each other and deep suspicions are observed in the bilateral policies pursued by their governments. Pakistan always wished for a friendly government in Afghanistan so that the western border could be considered secure — a wish that never materialised. The relationship got worse during President Hamid Karzai’s first term in office. Pakistan was not only cut off from the region’s mainstream politics but also blamed for the chaos engulfing Afghanistan. Though the situation has changed now and Pakistan is being seen again as the frontline state for resolving the Afghan mess and providing support for Karzai’s government after the foreign forces withdraw. Both countries are looking forward to a healthy beginning where their interests converge for a peaceful and stable region. Before the recent Pak-US strategic dialogue, Pakistan, a non-NATO ally, was never given due recognition and respect for the enormous contribution and the thousands of lives it sacrificed in the war against terror. In fact, historically Pak-US relationship had always been marked by convergence and divergence of national interests that kept on switching from friendship to friction. The US benefited more during the times of convergence of interests from the geostrategic location of Pakistan and its traditional security dilemma vis-a-vis India. Whereas Pakistan gained less as it was not given the required support by the US when needed most — during the 1965 War and, again, the 1971 War which led to the disintegration of the country. In fact, the US later imposed severe penalties, embargoes and sanctions on Pakistan. In the post-9/11 scenario bilateral relations saw a shifting policy pattern to dubiousness, and Pakistan still remained target of accusations from all sides. Not only this, the pressure of the ‘Pakistan should do more’ mantra and frequent swings in US mood towards Pakistan, particularly the inconsiderate warnings of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton caused embarrassment and more anger in the country. With the worsening situation in Afghanistan and setbacks at home for the US administration, Pakistan’s geo-strategic position in the region has once again presented hope for players engaged in Afghanistan. To realize those expectations a strategic dialogue was held which provided a platform to both Pakistan and the US to convey their expectations and demands. However, there are certain concerns on the part of Afghanistan due to the Pakistan-US dialogue and expectations in Pakistan-Afghanistan relations. Pakistan and the US have subsequently conducted two more rounds of strategic dialogue, one in July and the other in October 2010. However, the paper will focus only on the first round of strategic dialogue held at the ministerial level. The additional rounds are more of an extension to the first one’s objectives and results. At the second round, held at the secretarial level on 19 July, initiatives were taken and new areas of cooperation were explored. Meanwhile, both countries had detailed discussions on all the 13 sectors — decided at the first strategic dialogue (discussed in detail in the paper later) — at the expert technical level which helped in arriving at the implementation stage of the programmes agreed in the first round. During the second round a shift was made from security and terrorism related issues to productive and welfare sectors of Pakistan particularly water, agriculture, health and energy so that the basic needs of Pakistani people could be addressed. A new agreement was reached which would enable increase in production and export of Pakistani mangoes to the US markets.(1) The US pledged to complete two hydroelectric dam projects to supply electricity for more than 300,000 people in areas near the...