Imran Khan’s visit to the United States was a great achievement on the diplomatic front. It is a smart strategy to deal directly with the one man in Washington, who, despite the negative things he says, actually gets the job done. It is actually different and hopefully effective to circumvent the Washington machinery, which has been manipulated and deeply corrupted by corporate interests, Indian lobbyists, and Neocons among others. The one factor that unites these enemies of peace is the urge for perpetual war and the relentless pursuit of an enemy, while the status quo serves them well.
President Trump and Prime Minister Khan possess a common trait — described by Steve Jobs as a trait belonging to what the world associates with madness, but he saw it as a characteristic of a genius. According to Job, such people “Change things. They are not fond of rules and they have no respect for the status quo.” Trump and Khan shake the system and ‘think different’ from those that came before them.
The US and Pakistan do not need the system and the good old politics, but rather a different approach. Trump has a loud mouth or perhaps a loud Twitter account. He hurls false accusations, slings racial slurs at people of colour, and tells American citizens and elected officials to “go back” to where they came from just because of their race. However — and I have written about this before — President Trump has not waged a single war. That is very out of line with the American Presidential norm and one could even argue, is so not presidential. Almost all post-World War II American presidents have waged wars — both major and small skirmishes.
“If I can help, I would love to be a mediator. If I can do anything to help, let me know,” said Mr Trump while answering a Pakistani journalist. He also mentioned his conversation with the Indian Prime Minister regarding the Kashmir issue, “I was with Prime Minister Modi two weeks ago and we talked about this subject [Kashmir]. And he actually said would you like to be a mediator or arbitrator? I said, where? [Modi said] Kashmir.”
It does not come as a surprise that India denied Modi requested such a thing. Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar issued a strenuous denial as he stated, “It has been India’s consistent position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally.” It also clearly means that India is not interested in peace; otherwise they would have jumped at this opportunity.
Interestingly, India makes enormous noise globally over its problems with Pakistan and influences world bodies such as the FATF to blacklist Pakistan and even lobbies on Capitol Hill against Pakistan; but when it comes to Kashmir, it wants to keep the matter bilateral. They do not want any external pressure because they know they are the aggressors here, as they continue to occupy Kashmir militarily, making it the world’s most densely-militarised zone. Furthermore, expect the old school Washington power elite, academia, mainstream journalism, and some of the think tanks to disagree with the US acting as a mediator between Pakistan and India in helping to resolve the Kashmir conflict. That is why, a different approach, employed by leaders who are unconventional in their politics, is the only path to achieving peace in Kashmir.
President Trump needs Pakistan’s help in ending the longest American war. Pakistan wants the resumption of aid, and more importantly the resumption of the good old friendship between the two countries rooted in mutual trust. Otherwise, ceding control to Indian lobbyists would ensure more animosity between Pakistan and America. There is a natural harmony between ‘America first’ and ‘Pakistan first’ because both sides want the end of this war. The real good news is that Pakistan is helping America end a war, rather than wage one.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2019.