WASHINGTON: The United States has said that it continues to value its partnership with Pakistan and looks forward to rescheduling stalled talks as a former US ambassador warns that using “blunt pressure” on Islamabad could backfire.

“We continue to value our partnership with Pakistan and look forward to scheduling meetings at a mutually convenient time,” said a spokesperson for the US State Department when asked to comment on the postponement of bilateral talks.

Two US delegations were scheduled to visit Islamabad this week for talks on President Donald Trump’s Aug 21 speech, which outlined his new strategy for South Asia. He blamed Pakistan’s alleged support to some Taliban groups for Washington’s failure in subduing the Afghan insurgency and threatened punitive actions against Islamabad.

In the same speech, he urged India to play a greater role in Afghanistan, stoking Islamabad’s worst fears that New Delhi would use its growing influence on the western border for stirring troubles in Pakistan.

Since then, a number of former US diplomats and generals have warned the Trump administration that this strategy could end up antagonising Pakistan, without achieving the US objective of winning the war in Afghanistan.

Published in Dawn, August 31st, 2017

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