Dhaka, Bangladesh
A sense of convergence

What others say

A sense of convergence

The United Nations building in New York is once again the centre of attention as the General Assembly brings together (most of) the world’s leaders. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has met Vice-President Mike Pence on the sidelines for what was described as ‘…a good meeting’ by Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua. The US is to send a delegation to Pakistan in October to continue the dialogue more formally and the joint statement at the end of the meeting spoke of the need to stay engaged on a constructive path to achieve the shared objectives of peace, stability and economic prosperity in the region. Almost simultaneously Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was addressing the UNGA and appealing to Pakistan to work together with Afghanistan in order to ‘curb militants.’ He also welcomed the somewhat woolly new Afghan strategy proposed by President Trump who made his own address to the UNGA vowing to ‘obliterate’ North Korea if ‘Rocket Man’ does not mend his ways. Overall the tone and nature of the meetings and statements may be seen as several notches down the scale of aggressive bombast of only two weeks ago. Pakistan has a strong team on the ground — Ambassador to the UN Dr Maleeha Lodi is a particular asset — able to articulate and refute recent charges of not doing enough on the counter-terrorism front, as well as express concerns about US support for Indian excursions into Afghanistan. With a prime minister who seems to have a basic grasp of Foreign Policy 2.0, a foreign minister and foreign secretary likewise and well beyond in the case of Janjua, there is a possibility that Pakistan can craft a coherent foreign policy that is not based on an interconnected set of knee-jerk reactions. This is long overdue. The regional geo-political and geo-economic dynamics are shifting fast and present an almost unparalleled set of opportunities for Pakistan. Turkey is keen to get into the brokerage of peace in Afghanistan and cordial relations with Iran equally bode well. Managing the Pak-US bilateral relationship in the time of a mercurial Trump is a challenge, but for once there seems to be a convergence of competencies that may serve us well. —The Express Tribune

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