Imran, the presumed prime minister, made several policy statements in his victory speech on 26 July. First, he suggested that many of the problems concerning Afghanistan and Pakistan were caused by the United States intervention in Afghanistan. This contrasted with the statement from Kabul that Pakistan is partially responsible for Afghanistan’s problems. Who is right? Secondly, he identified tense relationships with India and hoped that the two countries would start trading. He also claimed that he knew India better than most as through his cricket career; he had widely travelled around the country. But would it be possible to begin trading without resolving the long-standing bitter political disputes between the siblings? I asked some questions from experts in the field: Brian Cloughley, author of “A History of the Pakistan Army,” and Steve Coll, author of “Directorate S.” Colonel Cloughley was the deputy head of the United Nations’ (UN) mission in Kashmir for two years and served as Australia’s military attached in Islamabad for five years. While Steve Coll is the dean of the school of Journalism at Columbia University, he wrote the book “Ghost Wars,” and has spent many years in South Asia.First I discuss the answers provided by Cloughley. He said that Imran’s “reference to an ‘open border’ was well-meant but disregarded the fact that Pakistan is trying to cut down the movement of extremists by building barriers around its borders, and they are hardly going to tear down what has been erected.” He said that the mere mention of ‘The Durand Line’ in Afghanistan, is like a “red rag to a bull.” He advised that would be best if Imran refrained from commenting on open borders. Instead, “he should go to Kabul and listen to what they have to say”, in the “least he can begin talking to them.” Imran was correct in pointing out that the insurrection in Afghanistan was caused by the US invasion in 2001-2002 and its consequent developments. He added that the “instability in Pakistan is a direct result of the US attack on Afghanistan and Musharraf’s instant support of that action”Cloughley further stated that Imran was correct in pointing out that the insurrection in Afghanistan was caused by the US invasion in 2001-2002 and its consequent developments. He added that the “instability in Pakistan is a direct result of the US attack on Afghanistan and Musharraf’s instant support of that action.”He said there had been but one isolated incident of suicide bombing in Pakistan before 2002.From 2002-18, there had been 471 incidents in which 7,291 people have been killed and upwards of 15,428 injured.Cloughley went on to say that it was unfortunate that Afghanistan had chosen to blame Pakistan for all its ills; Pakistan was hardly responsible for its long-standing culture of corruption and heroin trade. The colonel said it was imperative that Imran begin talking with India even before visiting Kabul. “India-Pakistan trade would be a massive boon for both countries, as well as in reducing tension.” But it was imperative for the two countries to resolve the Kashmir dispute. He said Pakistan should essentially accept the Line of Control as the international border. It won’t be easy, he added. While it would be extremely difficult even for a populist leader like Imran to sell this idea “to the citizens of Pakistan who have been brainwashed over the years concerning Kashmir,” it’s the only solution.Cloughley noted: “In April General Bajwa had said ‘It is our sincere belief that the route to peaceful resolution of Pakistan-India disputes — including the core issue of Kashmir — runs through comprehensive and meaningful dialogue.’” General Bajwa, Cloughley added, had said the same thing to the Corps Commanders and the Principal Staff Officers of the Army Chief.I asked him if the UN resolutions calling for a plebiscite in Kashmir were still relevant. He said they were still on the books but “any proposal to hold a plebiscite is doomed to failure, and no member of the UN Security Council would support such a move. It is totally unrealistic to expect that one would ever be conducted.”Then I put the same questions to Steve Coll, who replied that “there are multiple negotiations underway to explore how the violence of the Afghan war might be reduced and how the Taliban might participate in the project or even in Afghani politics. Pakistan is critical to those talks. Imran might play a constructive role in this because he supports a peace process and can understand where Washington is coming from.”Coll said that “the Army and Imran are aligned for the most part on Afghanistan, but that there is potential for them to diverge on India. Imran belongs to a generation of Pakistanis who can imagine a detente with India based on trade and common sense much more readily than Pakistan’s generals.”Turning to the US-Pakistan bi-lateral relationship, Coll said that the Trump Administration needs Pakistani cooperation to achieve its goals in Afghanistan, so in that sense there is a basis for mutual interest. But “there is a lot of bitterness in the US national security system — the military, the intelligence services — toward Pakistan. Equally, there is deep bitterness toward Washington within the Pakistani establishment.”He added that from their inception US-Pakistan relations have oscillated between bitterness and happiness. While relations fell to a low after the US raid on Abbottabad in 2011, Coll was hopeful that they would “return to their normal state of mutually cynical but cooperative equilibrium.”If we take Imran’s words at face values, they hold much promise for bringing lasting peace to the sub-continent. Wars solve no problems and simply lead to human tragedies.The writer has written Rethinking the National Security of PakistanPublished in Daily Times, August 1st 2018.