Jim Mattis' Pakistan visit: What do US, Islamabad want?
US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis is set to arrive soon in Pakistan as part of a four-nation tour which will also cover Egypt, Jordan, and Kuwait. Officials reveal that Mattis is scheduled to discuss bilateral and regional issues with both the civilian and military leadership in Islamabad. His visit comes as amid strained US-Pakistan ties. Is Washington trying to repair ties with Pakistan?
Is the US growing pro-India and anti-Pakistan on terror?
During PM Modi's US visit in June, Washington named Hizbul Mujahideen-chief, Syed Salahuddin a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist." Trump further warned Pakistan against supporting home-grown terrorism while unveiling his new Afghanistan strategy. Similar views have been echoed by other top Trump administration officials. Washington also recently slammed Islamabad for allowing the release of Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed and warned it of repercussions.
Is Trump administration doing a U-turn on Pakistan post-hostage rescue?
In October, Islamabad conducted a successful operation to rescue an American family held captive by the Haqqani Network. "Starting to develop a better relationship with Pakistan... I want to thank them for their cooperation on many fronts," Trump had tweeted after the operation. Official now sources reveal that Mattis will follow the same direction during his visit and attempt to appease Islamabad.
Was the hostage rescue staged?
Notably, CIA chief Mike Pompeo recently revealed that Pakistan was bluffing about the hostage rescue. He stated that contrary to Islamabad's version, the family was "held for five years in Pakistan" instead of Afghanistan, possibly by an ISI-backed terrorist group.
How will Islamabad negotiate with Mattis?
Pakistani newspaper Express Tribune reports that "if the US adopts parity, Islamabad will cooperate with them." On the other hand, if the US asks Pakistan to "do more (on terror)," Pakistan is likely to say "no-do-more and no cooperation." Islamabad could also raise its reservations on the Trump administration's pro-India policy and express its willingness to pitch in with reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan.