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Top story: A sign of setting or resetting relations?

  • KIPS Bureau
  • May, 2019
  • 174
  • National

ISLAMABAD SEEMS TO BE SENDING A SIGNAL TO WASHINGTON THOUGH 2019 COULD STILL SEE TRUMP’S TYPICAL TWEETS

With twists and turns, highs and lows, the year 2019 could, at least, see some overtures, if not relief, in the troubled ýPakistan-American bond. Currently, there is a titanic trust deficit between the ýtwo sides. ý

This deficit has overshadowed their bilateral bond, especially since the alcohol-allergic Donald Trump’s time began in 2017.

Although both have set up close strategic, military and economic relations for a long time, they have failed in fostering trustable ties so far. Some post-9/11 political developments in Afghanistan have been instrumental in mounting this mistrust. In this context, both also accuse each other of playing a ‘double game’.

With the foreign minister’s remark about ‘taking a new turn in the ties’, it appears Imran Khan’s government has already started some signs small steps to at least cut the trust deficit between the two countries. In turn, Washington, though too slow, is right now reading through the recent behind-closed-doors signals coming out of Islamabad, preferring to rely on things quietly running their course instead.

The relationship could better if Washington seeks to develop a long-term relationship with Islamabad’s civilian government, never its military. But first things first: Washington ought to treat Islamabad, if never preferentially, at par with New Delhi in this part of ruffled region. Islamabad’s genuine grievances should sufficiently be addressed. Open statements seems to sound better than just lip service, and optimism expressed in joint statements by diplomats from both sides. They must now do something substantial and practical.

AIRLINERS’ BOEING BAN

Airlines in several countries including India, China, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Ethiopia, Britain and Brazil have grounded their American-built Boeing 737 Max 8 jets − there are nearly 350 Boeings in operation worldwide − following the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet that killed 157 people in March.

HORRIBLE HUMAN RECORD

Thirty-six countries have signed an open letter criticising Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, in a letter, read at a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the first collective rebuke of the kingdom, urging Saudi Arabia to release human rights activists jailed for ‘exercising their fundamental freedoms’ and ‘disclose all information available’ about the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

COURT LAWYERS’ LAMPOON

Human rights lawyers have filed the first cases against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, with the lawsuits being submitted on behalf of 28 Syrian refugees in Jordan who say they were forced to flee the country, with the legal teams calling on the court to probe possible crimes against humanity committed since Syria’s civil war began in 2011.

POLL DELAY DECISION

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has led Algeria for 20 years but has been rarely seen in public since he suffered a stroke in 2013, delayed the April 18 presidential polls, saying he will never seek a fifth term in office, after his candidacy had provoked mass protests that are still being staged across Algeria.

TRIUMF IN DIPLOMATIC TIES

Russia and Turkey have cemented their military ties in a series of events that has further showcased America’s strained ties with the Eurasian region, with Defence Minister Hulusi Akar saying his forces will begin deploying Russia’s coveted S-400 ‘Triumf’ anti-missile and anti-aircraft defence system in October this year, a move he says is meant to ‘protect our 82 million citizens’.

BELT-AND-ROAD PLAN PULL

Italy may be about to formally join China’s Belt and Road Initiative, becoming the largest economy yet to back the massive global infrastructure project which is a signature policy of President Xi Jinping, following multiple reports that the Italian government could sign an accord in weeks, hoping to attract greater Chinese investment in its struggling economy, and in case Rome signs it with Beijing, Italy will be the first member of the G7 group of advanced economies to officially back the initiative.

RESIGNATION OVER REFORMS

Finland’s entire government has resigned over its failure to achieve a key policy goal on social welfare and healthcare reform, with Prime Minister Juha Sipila saying he is hugely disappointed in the outcome, thus financially pressuring the country’s extensive welfare systems as the nation’s population ages, yet reform plans remain politically controversial.

EURO VISIT VISA

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