In turn, Nawaz Sharif intends to use the visit to ask the United States to address the long-standing Kashmir issue, which has already provoked an angry rebuke from the Indian Foreign Ministry. In fact, some of the activation and the apparent improvement in US -Pakistan relations is not due to the elimination of deep contradictions that have piled up in recent years, but to attempts by the United States to create a new configuration of its allies in the region on the eve of a radical change in the geopolitical situation in 2014, says the expert of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies Boris Volkhonsky.
During the years of the military operations in neighboring Afghanistan, the U.S. seems to have done everything possible to spoil relations with a former key ally in South Asia – Pakistan. The use of Pakistani territory for the war, which has never been popular among Pakistanis and eventually caused more and more aversion, constant violations of the sovereignty of Pakistan, strikes on Pakistani territory by unmanned aerial vehicles ( drones ) and even direct missile strikes on positions of Pakistani troops, the operation to destroy Osama bin Laden in May 2011, undertaken by U.S. Special Forces without notifying Pakistani authorities, – these are just a few factors that have led to the fact that, according to Gallup, Pakistan has become a country that has the strongest anti-American feelings in the world – reminds Boris Volkhonsky.
Recently, the intensity of the strikes on Pakistani territory under the pretext of fighting terrorism has declined slightly, but still only for this year about 20 such strikes was reported. And according to the recently published report of the UN, the total number of victims of such attacks among Pakistani civilians is no less than 400 people, which is much higher than the official data presented by the U.S. authorities . And Nawaz Sharif, before departing for Washington, said he intends to firmly put the question to the US to end violations of the state sovereignty of his country.
On its part, the U.S. government made a few reconciliatory gestures towards Pakistan, the main one being the defrosting of the aid package of $ 1.6 billion. And a number of statements that have been made by officials, and certainly will be made during and after the negotiations, intended to show that the U.S wants to turn a new page in relations with Pakistan and to build them anew.
However, we are not speaking about a peace-loving administration or its desire to please the new prime minister . US- Pakistan relations cannot be considered outside the broader context of the geopolitical situation in the vast region covering South Asia and much of the Middle East.
2014 will be a turning point. During the year, two events must occur that can radically change the whole situation, says Boris Volkhonsky :
The first event is obvious – the withdrawal of foreign (mainly U.S. ) troops from Afghanistan. What will happen in Afghanistan after that, no one can predict today. But there are two possible alternatives – one terrible, the other monstrous: either the return of the Taliban, or an all-out war. And if you bet on the lesser of two evils ( the return of the Taliban ), it will not be possible to achieve stability in this country without the help of Pakistan.
The second event, expected in 2014, it would seem, has little bearing on this question . This is the general elections in India. But if you think about it, this issue is even more important . Chances of Narendra Modi coming to power in India are quite high. And the politician, after becoming prime minister, would hardly forget the many humiliations he has suffered from the State Department, which has repeatedly denied him a visa. And against the background of a possible cooling of American-Indian relations, it is extremely important for Washington to retain control of the situation by engaging Pakistan in the orbit of its policy.
Apparently, this is also understood by Nawaz Sharif, who is clearly going to win the support of the United States in one of the most acute and long-standing issues of foreign policy – Kashmir – says Boris Volkhonsky . – This intention has angered India, which firmly adheres to the position that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of its territory and opposes any internationalization of the Kashmir issue.
Of course, the U.S. is unlikely to go so far as to express unequivocal support for Pakistan’s position . But the fact is that they will have to pay for the normalization of relations and the price will obviously be much higher than the aid package for thawing.