The 6th policy discussion on 'Pak-US Relations: Opportunities and Challenges' was organized by the Jinnah Institute and attended among others by senior defence and diplomatic experts.
A prominent journalist and expert on Afghan affairs Ahmed Rashid said mainstream Afghan Taliban would like to enter into a partnership with someone who is acceptable to the West as this is the only way for them to survive politically in Afghanistan.
He was of the view that Pakistan has no clarity in its Afghan policy as it wants US and other forces to leave that country but for the last seven months blocked their supply lines which meant stopping them from leaving. Similarly‚ it wants talks with Taliban but is not delivering them to Karzai or the United States.
Again‚ he believed‚ Pakistan wants India not to gain too much in Afghanistan but Pakistan's policy during the last few months pushed United States and India towards strategic partnership on Afghanistan.
Ahmed Rashid also opined that like Saudi Arabia‚ Pakistan should have taken steps for mainstreaming of militant groups.
He also proposed dialogue between Pakistan and India on Afghanistan and steps for rebuilding the trust of the international community so that the country can play is eligible role in the end game in Afghanistan.
Another senior journalist Zahid Hussain said the negotiated settlement in Afghanistan should be followed by a regional agreement. He‚ however‚ added that regional agreement is not possible if the United States decides to stay in Afghanistan.
He said one of the major reasons of trust deficit between the United States and Pakistan is the use of drone strikes. He pointed out that Obama administration allowed 300 such strikes and no country can tolerate such actions in its territory.
He said Pakistan will bear the brunt if there is deep instability in Afghanistan.
Zahid Hussain said broken partnership between Pakistan and the United States would not be in their interest and they should move towards convergence on points of differences.
Moeed Yusuf of United States Institute of Peace said there is convergence in the sense that no one wants a destabilized Afghanistan or continuation of the civil war there. He said the whole world agreed that Taliban have to be part of the solution.
He was of the view that Pakistan might not be enjoying the kind of clout on Taliban that it claims or believed to have.
He said everyone talks about regional solution but wants someone out of the process.
Moeed said Pakistan would receive backlash if it goes after Haqqani network and might face isolation if it chooses otherwise.
Visiting US scholar Rebecca Goetz said she found Pakistan safe and its people nice and she would convey it to American people and media on her return home.
She called for more educational exchanges between the two countries with Pakistani students visiting the United States and vice versa.