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"Rocky" US-Pakistan relations are transactional at best, say analysts

The US and Pakistan have been allies for decades but analysts believe the rocky relations between the US and Pakistan are transactional at best.

ISLAMABAD: US Secretary of State John Kerry and Adviser to Pakistan's Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz have met in Washington to set the future direction of the bilateral relations between the two countries.

The talks will be viewed with great interest by international observers as they come at a time when a large number of American soldiers are planning to leave Afghanistan.

The US and Pakistan have been allies for decades.

And yet, with plenty of hiccups in their diplomatic and military engagements, it has not been an easy relationship, especially in recent years.

Analysts believe the rocky relations between the US and Pakistan are transactional at best.

Zafar Jaspal, professor at Quaid-e-Azam University, said: "Both states have different kinds of strategic outlooks. There are a number of irritants between them.

"For instance, Pakistan is not ready to accept India as a great power while the US is trying to establish it as one. The Americans have a strategic competition with China while Pakistan has a strategic partnership with China."

Many people in Pakistan claim that the US does not respect Pakistan's sovereignty, arm-twists its administrations, and takes an unfavourable view of their country.

Political Analyst Tariq Pirzada said: "As a result of the demonization campaign of Pakistan by the US media, the US legislators, the US Congress and the US governments in the last 12 years, the attitude of the lawmakers in the United States is so hostile to Pakistan that it will probably take decades, even if there is a concerted effort, to mend fences between the two countries."

But the national demonization is not just one-way.

Anti-Americanism also runs rampant in Pakistan -- the US is frequently criticised, and politicians rarely mention any benefits from their diplomatic dealings with Washington.

And it is against this backdrop that the two countries have once again come together.

As the opening statements of Kerry and Aziz indicated, the two sides will have to do a lot to increase the level of mutual trust.

For now, the two governments have decided to work incrementally, addressing pressing issues such as the situation in Afghanistan and the rising threat of religious militancy.

Apart from that, they have pledged to work for greater economic growth and regional stability in South Asia as well.

The US-Pakistan relationship has traditionally focused on the defence and security requirements of the two countries.

However, now that the Americans want to drastically reduce the number of their troops in Afghanistan, the US and Pakistan will have to iron out their differences and search for common ground in other areas as well. 

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