A lot of positive noises came from Washington surrounding the Trump-Khan meeting on Monday and Imran Khan’s maiden visit to the US in general. The body language of both leaders and the tone of the conversation between them and with the press indicates that the two got on well, which is good sign for the bilateral relations of the countries. If the two individuals can hit it off, Pakistan’s deteriorating relationship with the US over the last few years can be improved upon by quite a margin.

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government is currently in a unique position judging by the comments at the press gathering; as a new government it has the opportunity to turn over a new leaf in the bilateral relations between the two countries. New faces on both sides will help provide a space for more positive relations, where both the Trump administration and the Imran Khan government can blame previous heads for mistakes made and hence work towards achieving the various goals of both leaders in areas of strategic policy, trade, aid and relations with India vis-à-vis Kashmir.

For President Trump, the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and the negotiation process with the Afghan Taliban is clearly the biggest priority. Pakistan can take advantage of the many positive signs coming from the talks and use them to improve its relationship with the US in the process, but this is only possible if the negotiations regarding Afghanistan’s future continue to make headway.

For Pakistan, a potential visit by President Trump, which he recognized as a possibility, while a diplomatic coup, would only be the icing on the cake related to the many benefits Pakistan can secure for itself if the Prime Minister can convince the US government of its sincerity in improving ties. In exchange for greater work on eliminating non-state actors targeting our western and eastern neighbours, Pakistan can potentially expect a resumption of the aid packages coming in from the US, which would greatly help in alleviating our current financial troubles.

Even if we take President Trump’s comments about quadrupling or increasing bilateral trade ten times over, any increased trade with one of the biggest global markets will go a long way in stabilising Pakistan’s balance of payments. Of course, even while the US President indicated a willingness to negotiate a settlement on the Kashmir issue, claiming that Prime Minister Modi had made this request as well, expecting too much on this front – judging by the cool reaction from the Indian side – is not sensible. Even though this visit did not result in any concrete agreements signed or with commitments to resolve the Kashmir question, Imran Khan should be congratulated and supported for a successful trip to the US.