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Pak-U.S. Relations: Resetting the Terms of Engagement

Author: CSSPR 

Affiliation: University of Lahore 

Organization/Publisher: Center for Security, Strategy and Policy Research (CSSPR), University of Lahore

Date/Place: November 16, 2020/Pakistan 

Type of Literature: Policy Brief 

Number of Pages: 5 

KeywordsUS, Pakistan, China, CPEC, Afghanistan, Nuclear weapons 


This policy brief presents where Pakistan and the USA’s relationship currently lie, how it has stood, contrasts the two countries’ actions and visions, and finally tries to procure a way forward. The report acknowledges that the relationship has been one of Aid and Sanctions which has led to many misunderstandings and strained ties. However, the two countries have many convergences that could outweigh the differences. These common goals are stability in Afghanistan, economic stability of Pakistan, sharing intelligence in counterterrorism, stability in South Asia, Indo-Pak relations, democracy and human rights, and cooperation in defense. Despite this, they diverge on a couple of issues. Firstly, Pakistan finds the US’s lack of sensitivity to Indo-Pak friction as troubling. This is evidenced by how the US sells weapons to both, which the regional rivals use in their battle point, Kashmir. Furthermore, Pakistan feels that its counterterrorism efforts are underappreciated, and in fact downright ignored, with the US’s demands for it to “do more.” Pakistan’s concerns over India’s role in destabilizing the country are also unheeded by the US. On the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the US is concerned over Pakistan’s warm relations with the Chinese, especially while Sino-US relations are abysmal. Lastly, Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program must be assured of security from the US when non-proliferation seems to be highly prioritized by the new president-elect. To assuage all these concerns, the US must appreciate Pakistan’s role in intra-Afghan talks and refrain from scapegoating, Pakistan must seek to balance its position between China and the US and not be wholly indebted to either of them. Lastly, Pakistan must clearly prioritize its goals with the upcoming US president to ensure mutually beneficial ties.  

By: Sahar Sadiq, CIGA Research Intern



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