Starting to develop 'much better' relations with Pakistan

Nafees Zakara

After berating Pakistan for supporting terrorist groups in Afghanistan in a major foreign policy speech in August, US President Donald Trump seems to have softened his rhetoric after Islamabad facilitated the release of a Canadian-American family from militant-infested Waziristan over the weekend.

"I have openly said Pakistan took tremendous advantage of our country for many years, but we're starting to have a real relationship with Pakistan, and they're to respect us as a nation again, and so are other nations", Trump said. This could form part of the discussions between Indian officials and leaders when US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visits India in the last week of October.

American citizen Caitlan Coleman and her Canadian husband Joshua Boyle along with their three children were rescued from the Haqqanis on Thursday after an operation by Pakistani forces based on intelligence from the U.S. authorities.

Action on part of the Pakistani Army was immediately hailed by Trump as a "positive moment" in relations between Islamabad and Washington.

The deteriorated relations started mending after U.S. vice president and PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi held a meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session in NY where both high ups agreed to restore ties through negotiations.

The couple was kidnapped in October 2012 while on a backpacking trip that took them to Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and then to Afghanistan.

"The Pakistani government's cooperation is a sign that it is honoring America's wish that it do more to provide security in the region", Trump said. He said that "in this administration, we will call evil by its name".

"We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time [when] they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting", he said, warning that the vital aid the United States offers to the country could be cut. They had three children while in captivity.

This came after Pakistani forces rescued an American family which had been kept captive by the Haqqani network.

Both the countries have mutually agreed to continue bilateral engagements at all levels and strengthen their relationship to defeat terrorism. The chief of army staff went on to say that it's time the world "do more" in the fight against terrorism, not Pakistan. "The US under President Trump believes in transactional relationships and this is an example of that", he said.

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