On October 30, 2020, the Director, Center for Security, Strategy and Policy Research (CSSPR), Dr. Rabia Akhtar, partook in a 2 plus 2 dialogue organized by the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) on Pak-U.S. relations post U.S. elections.
During her presentation, Dr. Akhtar surveyed the entire gamut of Pak-U.S. relations, and argued that the leadership variable does not play much of a role in their equation. She said, “Pak-U.S. relations have been determined by their own national security interests and geopolitical shifts, and have been typified by aids, sanctions, grievances, and halcyon days”.
She listed some of the areas of convergences between the two countries, to include peace and stability in Afghanistan and counterterrorism, among others. “Lack of sensitivity to Pakistan’s security concerns, lack of acknowledgement of Pakistan’s counterterrorism successes, and the way Washington looks at Pakistan’s relations with China were the main areas of divergence between the two countries”, she added.
Dr. Akhtar spelt out three areas where both countries will have expectations of each other i.e. Afghanistan, Sino-U.S. strategic rivalry bilateral conversation between the two countries. She said that Pakistan must remind the US that it has done its utmost in bringing warring parties in Afghanistan on the negotiating table. “Pakistan must not be scapegoated in case the intra-Afghan dialogue fails”, she added.
On the Sino-U.S. competition concern, Dr. Akhtar said that the US must not look at Pakistan through a China prism. She proposed the resuscitation of bilateral strategic dialogue between the two countries. “The dialogue should focus on five key areas, to include Energy, Security, Non-Proliferation, among others”, she further suggested.
Dr. Akhtar said that Pakistan needs to convey to the US that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is not a zero-sum game, and Pakistan is very much open to turning a page in its economic relations with the US.