Uri Attack, Afghan Reconciliation, CPEC, and US Pakistan Relations

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POLITACT and NEXT TV co-hosted a special TV program to analyze the perceptions and perspectives surrounding the US-Pakistan relations on September 28, 2016, especially in the context of Pakistan-India tensions, lack of progress on Afghan Reconciliation, CPEC, and budding US-India ties.

The guests included Dr. Marvin Weinbaum of the Middle East Institute, and Ikram Sehgal – Defense and Security Analyst and Chairman of Pathfinder Group in Pakistan.

Key Insights:

1. While US supports the China Pakistan Economic Corridor project, it would not like China to use it strategically to gain advantage.

2. The emerging American position regarding Afghanistan is that success there cannot be achieved in absence of change in Pakistan’s position, which wants to maintain a Pushtun leverage there – and counter Indian influence. The US is increasingly viewing instability in Afghanistan and Kashmir conflict as a consequence of cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan, and not as local insurgencies.

3. While the primary focus of China may be on boosting the economy of Pakistan, US and India want the country to worry about countering extremism – and Uri attack helps in shifting that focus.

4. While US policy circles are hesitant in endorsing the CPEC project, American companies are already involved and are participating in the Chinese One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, of which CPEC is a part. Moreover, under its New Silk Road Initiative, US has helped in building the interoperability between customs and transit systems of different nations in the region, which may benefit projects being undertaken under OBOR. Thus, there appears to be a contradiction in American political and economic objectives in the region.

5. Pakistan, on the other hand, wants to project the CPEC project as a Win-Win initiative and wishes other regional nations such as India, Afghanistan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia join as well.

However, this does not fit well with the Indian desire to isolate Pakistan, exert economic pressure, and thus change Pakistan’s role towards Kashmir and Afghanistan. Moreover, CPEC decreases American leverage to influence Pakistan’s perceived behavior, while increasing its reliance on India.

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