The Much publicised Imran Khan-Donald Trump July parley was a low-key affair, albeit Trump's softened stance towards Pakistan at this juncture made cricketer-turned politician Khan and his army chief and intelligence (ISI) boss heave an audiable sigh of relief. Days after the meeting between President Donald Trump and Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan, the Pentagon approved military sales worth 125 million dollars that would result in the monitoring of F-16 fighter jets of Pakistan.

This is one way to tell the world, despite hard talks, like his predecessors, Trump has no option but to woo the 'betrayers' in Islamabad to pacify the Afghan Taliban and make a peace deal with to administer Kabul and prolong American stay in that war-torn nation without further increasing the number of body bags.

For all practical purposes, half of Afghanistan is controlled by the terrorist outfits, Taliban with their headquarters in Qatar, being the principal player. When the Taliban drove out the Soviets with America's military might, they did not want to share power with any political entity. This time too, it is unlikely that any kind of 'dominating' coalition that the Uncle Sam and ruling party Ghani propose would be entertained in the long run. What Washington wants from Taliban and Pakistan is unrealistic if it is judged exfacie. The Yanks hope to clip the wings of Taliban while maintaining the status quo and their military presence undisturbed. It is a tortutous process and how much Pakistan can deliver after so many permutations and combinations in the region is open to question because Pakistan itself is now a victim of its own creation—the terror industry. At the time of writing unidentified militants attacked Pakistani security forces in the tribal North Waziristan district and the restive Balochistan Province on July 27, 2019, killing 10 soldiers including an officer.

If the Trump administration has unlocked the financial-military assistance to Pakistan despite Congressional sanctions, it is also in the best interest of Pentagon. Without monitoring F-16 jets that Pakistan has acquired—54 in total—the Pentagon cannot make them ready and in good condition. After all money (assistance?) will finally go to 60 American contractors who will assits in the oversight of operations. Whatever Trump is saying in public—or not saying—it is not that easy to return to a peaceful, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan. In truth Afghans have forgotten to live in peace. An understanding with Mullahcracy may not last long. A clash of ideologies!

For one thing Imran Khan's US diplomacy was downplayed by the Pakistani media for reasons other than America. There was nothing new in Imran Khan's admission that 30,000-40,000 armed people, supposed to be jihadists are roaming the country. They are all well trained by the Pakistani army, fought in Kashmir and Afghanistan. Despite continual denial, the Pakistani army utilises them as assets in their scheme of proxy war in Kashmir and destabilisation game in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Modi has long been out of the Afghan scenario. America, Russia, China and Pakistan have virtually edged out India and Iran from Afghan peace process. Also, Modi is now doubly harried at home for his all weather friend Trump who has made the Kashmir imbroglio some what complex for his unnecessary and unwanted interference in India's internal affairs, Trump is a bull in China shop. He knows little about the January 6, 2004 joint communique issued by Indian prime minister A B Vajpayee and Pakistan president Musharraf, agreeing to stop cross-border terrorism. And it worked for some time. Earlier both the Shimla Agreement and Lahore Declaration failed to evolve a working mechanism to bring in peace along the volitile LoC.

Imran or no Imran, the Pakistan army that decides the hard decisions, notwithstanding a civilian rule, is at a cross-roads. It remains to be seen how far they would like to mellow to adjust with the changing reality.

If Pakistan is a jihadi manufacturing factory, it is because there are 32,000 Madrasas that nurse youths with not meaningful function within Pakistan, threatening it today more than India. They cannot go elsewhere to spread jihad. Given the troubling situation they may ultimately give birth to dozens of separatist tendencies, making Pakistan a living hell on the planet earth.


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Vol. 52, No. 6, Aug 11 - 17, 2019