The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made his first official trip to Pakistan on 5th of September saying that he hoped to reset the relationship with the new government after a period of sharp disagreements between the longtime security allies. “We talked about their new government, the opportunity to reset the relationship between our two countries across a broad spectrum, economic, business, commercial, the work that we all know that we need to do to try to develop a peaceful resolution in Afghanistan that benefits certainly Afghanistan, but also the United States and Pakistan,” Pompeo told reporters in Islamabad. “I’m hopeful that the foundation that we laid today will set the conditions for continued success as we start to move forward,” he added.
Pompeo, who was accompanied by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Joseph Dunford, stayed in Islamabad for nearly five hours during which he met Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, and Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Bajwa. Pompeo’s trip was billed by US officials as a chance to discuss a negotiated peace in Afghanistan something Pakistan has long sought. The trip comes during one of the tensest periods in US and Pakistan relations. Pompeo’s focus on a negotiated peace in Afghanistan has delighted many in Islamabad, which has long argued that the US war in the country is doomed to failure. Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the Pakistani foreign minister, said that “America has arrived at the conclusion that the solution to Afghanistan’s conflict is a negotiated political settlement. Here, Pakistan and the US have an alignment of view.”
Secretary Pompeo has said that their State Department will lead effort of talking with Taliban’s in collaboration with their other institutions. This is insight into their new strategy that the US has now opened up space for talks with the Taliban for a political settlement. The US does not want their footprint in Afghanistan for an indefinite time period. Of course a change of strategy of this nature cannot have an exact timeline, but the will is very clear.He further said both Pakistan and the US have also agreed to have very candid conversations, with concerns and perspective from both side on the table.“There is no way forward without this. We understood what they want, and have also presented forward what Pakistan expects… in a mutually respectful manner”.
Published in Melange Intl. Magazine September 2018.