Maleeha Lodhi is a well known expert on Pakistan and U.S. relations. I spoke to her about the complicated relationship between two countries and if she sees any improvement in ties among two countries.
Beenish: Is the recent engagement between Pakistan and U.S. officials, especially the visit of Marc Grossman to Pakistan, has helped in improving ties between two countries or not?
Maleeha:  The U.S. has not responded to many demands of Pakistan.  U.S has not offered an apology on Salala check post attacks, payments of Coalition Support Fund to Pakistan have not been made, and no agreement on drones have been made. The parliamentary recommendations are very clear on stopping drone attacks, but the U.S. has not agreed to stop them. I think it’s not only about opening up of NATO supply routes, the U.S. has not responded positively on what Pakistan wants. We have to see if the deadlock between two countries can be resolved or not? And whether the new terms of engagement can be created on the basis of parliamentary recommendation?
Beenish: Is opening up of NATO supply route not only in the interest of NATO, but also in interest of Pakistan?
Maleeha: The U.S. wants Pakistan to open NATO supply line before the upcoming NATO Summit, which will be held in Chicago on 21-22 May. If U.S. wants Pakistan to participate in the conference than it must accept Pakistan demands. Because the relationship cannot be unilateral, the problem can only be resolved if the U.S. responds positively to Pakistan’s demands which have come out in form of parliamentary recommendations.
Beenish: The words, “Realistic Expectation” are being used by both sides, do you think it’s a realistic expectation from Pakistan that the U.S. stops drone attacks.
Maleeha: The U.S wants to leave this region, it wants to withdraw its forces and it says that the threat from Al-Qaeda is reduced; most of its members have fled to North Africa and Yemen. If this assessment is correct than drones attacks are not needed here.  During the recent talks between two countries, Afghan reconciliation process was also discussed. Peace is not achieved from waging a war; it can only be achieved by political and peaceful efforts. So, the U.S. should also think, would it be able to achieve its targets in Afghanistan with a continuation in drone attacks.
Beenish: Do you see any progress in the Afghan reconciliation process and what role should Pakistan play in this process.s
Maleeha: There is a consensus that peace cannot be achieved in Afghanistan without talking with Taliban and by involving them in the peace talks, but the talks between Taliban and the U.S. are suspended. According to Taliban, they have suspended the talks because the U.S. didn’t comply with agreement between them. The Taliban had asked to U.S. to send Taliban prisoners in Guantanamo Bay to Qatar, but the U.S. didn’t do it. In my opinion, the talks with Taliban are stalled because of U.S. domestic political environment. So if there is no progress in the reconciliation process it is not because of Pakistan or because of Afghanistan, the momentum of talks has been broken by U.S. domestic election politics.
Beenish: What role does U.S. wants Pakistan to play in Afghanistan after 2014 when its troops are withdrawn from the region?
Maleeha:  The U.S. would need Pakistan’s assistance to carry back the heavy war equipment. Other than this, the nations of this region want that once NATO forces leave, they leave a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, so the situation of 1980s does not recur. So, very challenging times are coming ahead and for that it’s important that Pakistan and U.S. relations are normalized. And it is also important that Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, countries with high stakes in the region, are also on the same page.
Here's link of my video


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