Tit-for-tat diplomacy!

0
77
  • A gift of lost credibility or interest?

“Force is all conquering, but its victories are short lived”

The present administration of the United States, apparently, seems to have forgotten the aforementioned quote from one of its most celebrated past presidents, Abraham Lincoln.

Inclined towards sticks and carrots approach towards diplomacy, where Washington used to follow the practice of carrying a gun in one hand, and a sandwich in the other, asking the other side to choose any for itself, in recent times seems to have been carrying guns in both hands. With President Donald Trump in the driving seat, in particular, the US administration is least interested in offering a sandwich to anyone.

The coercive diplomacy is visible from Washington’s adamant stance on international issues, and tough demands from its regional, and global counter parts. Whereas the coercive diplomacy might have temporarily delivered results as desired by sitting US administration/s, it has, on one side, adversely effected Washington’s credibility as a super power, and a sane global leader, and on the other has resulted in deteriorating bilateral relationships with potential allies across regions, and the globe at large; speaking of which, Pakistan can find itself on top of the list of such allies.

The relations between Pakistan and the US are as old as approximately 70 years, and have been marked by ups and downs. The history of Pak-US relations is witness to Washington abandoning Islamabad upon achievement of its geo-strategic interest in the region, keeping the latter behind, and lagging in economic, technological, and military advancements.

Having no sandwich to offer either has further pushed Pakistan to search for options other than the US in the form of its look east approach

The situation, seemingly, drifted in Pakistan’s favour with the initiation of the global War on Terror, with the United States endorsing Islamabad as not just a front-line ally, but a long term strategic partner in the South Asian region. The awkward love affair between the odd couple, however, did not last long yet again, as the US administration, since then, has blamed Pakistan of providing safe havens to terrorist outfits within its territories, hence resulting in the demand from Islamabad to do more. As the US continuing with its streak of abandoning Pakistan further fueled the anti-US sentiment among the general public, the government, and diplomatic circles of Pakistan remained accommodative in every possible way to Washington’s demands.

This scenario, however, seems to have changed, and is changing further. Overtime, whereas the US has considerably cut down the aid to Pakistan, the Trump administration has denied Islamabad of the military aid under the Coalition Support Fund, leaving it to fight the war on terror by itself; having already borne severe setbacks in terms of both, the economy, and the lives lost. Not to forget that the US is also in hot pursuit of placing Pakistan on the black list of FATF (Financial Action Task Force). In addition to all these, Washington recently placed a restriction on the movement of Pakistani diplomats based in the US, with Islamabad returning the favour by restricting the US diplomats’ movement in Pakistan.

Washington’s persistence on coercive diplomacy in case of Pakistan now seems to have backfired, as Islamabad apparently is not in the mood of holding back its horses.

But what are the possible contributing factors to a changed diplomatic response from Pakistan? Has the US lost its credibility as a responsible super power? Or has Islamabad lost interest in the love for Washington? Perhaps both.

With guns in both hands, prioritising and pursuing its own interests rather than promoting bilateral win-win scenarios, and forcefully imposing its own version of larger than life values like freedom, justice, and equality, the US itself has distorted its credibility as being the sole world leader. Despite having made the greatest sacrifices, and achieving remarkable landmarks in the war on terror, Washington has pushed Islamabad away by choosing India, over Pakistan, to be its strategic partner in the region. Backing out of the Iranian nuclear deal is another relevant example where other western powers like Britain, France, and Germany not only condemned the US decision but vowed to continue together on the agreed upon path under the deal.

Having no sandwich to offer either has further pushed Pakistan to search for options other than the US in the form of its look east approach, strengthening its ties with China as never before, in addition to exploring potential relations with other regional and world players.

The coercive diplomacy by the US has resulted in tit for tat diplomacy by Pakistan, demanding relations with Washington based on equal terms, respect, and prevalence of bilateral interests.

Something, definitely, to look forward to!