Imran Khan’s fantasy, US-Pakistan relations will go back to ‘business as usual’

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Prime Minister Imran Khan would like President Joe Biden to call him and maybe invite him to Washington and the Pakistani military would like the US government to move beyond what happened in Afghanistan and go back to ‘business as usual.’ However, is that possible and for that what will each side need to do?

According to Fahd Hussain, resident editor Islamabad for Dawn, wrote, “Pakistan may want to acknowledge that it is floundering in the art of storytelling. Victors usually don’t struggle with their narratives, they revel in them. Pakistan though is bracing for a backlash. Something, somewhere is terribly wrong with how this story is unfolding. The secret of this failure, in fact, is hiding in plain sight. The Pakistani state, and many influential sections of its society, cannot seem to resist the powerful urge to romance the Taliban even though the red wedding is over and the guests have limped back home. Very few in Pakistan are willing to recognise that walking away from a victory does not mean abandoning its spoils.”

Hussain notes that Pakistan’s “fumble may not make sense at first viewing. Pakistani officials are parroting a fairly reasonable position. We maintain that the Taliban should have an inclusive government, that they should include women and minorities in their government, and that they should ensure the Afghan soil is not used for terrorism against any country. The prime minister, foreign minister and the national security adviser are pushing this narrative well through repeated interviews. And yet, the problem persists. It persists for at least three reasons: (1) Western leaders believe there is a gap between what Pakistani officials say and what they do (2) Western leaders also maintain that Pakistan has not used the leverage it has over the Taliban sufficiently to make them change their behaviour (3) they also maintain Taliban would not have gained the emphatic victory they have without the active support of Pakistan through the years.”

Hussain concludes by saying “The secret of this failure, in fact, is hiding in plain sight. The Pakistani state, and many influential sections of its society, cannot seem to resist the powerful urge to romance the Taliban even though the red wedding is over and the guests have limped back home. Very few in Pakistan are willing to recognise that walking away from a victory does not mean abandoning its spoils.”

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Author: Zahid Khan