United States President Donald Trump met Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday and discussed a variety of issues, including the security concerns in Afghanistan, the Kashmir dispute and terrorism emanating from Pakistan.
Here are the key takeaways from President Trump's meeting with PM Imran Khan:
- Pakistan is no longer in the doghouse. Donald Trump had publicly castigated Pakistan for taking US money but doing nothing in the fight against terrorism to protect American lives and assets. The Washington meeting with Imran Khan makes it clear that US-Pakistan relations are on the mend, and in the coming days, is likely to show more warmth.
- India will continue to be important for the US, but henceforth, there will be a more balanced approach in Washington’s policy towards South Asia, particularly in dealing with India and Pakistan. It means that though Trump administration may continue to highlight the need to take action against Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed and other terrorist leaders and outfits operating out of Pakistan, it may not exert the kind of pressure on Islamabad as it has in the past.
- The possibility of the US playing a mediator in Indo-Pak relations -- irrespective of India’s outright rejection of any such offer -- is likely to be on the table and could be taken up anytime the US wants to please the Pakistani leadership. It also stems from the fact that Trump sees himself as a global leader and a master dealmaker.
- Pakistan remains key to America’s Afghan policy. With the urgency to withdraw its troops and military hardware from war-torn Afghanistan, the US needs Pakistan’s active support and help. The importance of Pakistan also rises because of its ability to deliver the Taliban to the talks table for negotiations to restore peace and stability in Afghanistan.
- Pakistan is likely to milk the Afghan card in its dealings with the Trump administration to the utmost. Indications are there that the billions of dollars in US aid to Pakistan is on its way to be revived. But Islamabad is likely to seek much more assistance both on the military and civilian front from the US in the coming day.
- However, the caveat in all this will be Trump’s tendency to do a 180-degree turn on his policy on key issues if things don’t go the way he expects them to go. Therefore, despite the current bonhomie between the two sides, the Pakistani leadership should be cautious not to overplay their hands and also ensure that they deliver on what they had promised to the US president.