If US wants to break up with Pakistan, let it be so
by Noreen Shams Khan
President Trump during his prime time speech on Monday announced his stance on Afghanistan and Pakistan. He announced further and stronger military action in Afghanistan, though no specification on the number of troops who would be sent to the country and for Pakistan putting an end to the infamous “Do more” demand he seems to have given a clear warning.
Before weighing what it means for Pakistan let us analyze Trump plan for Afghanistan.
First of all, current strategy seems an old version of US policies for Afghanistan with some tweaks around the edges. It says further and stronger military action but there is no specific number of troops, no timeline this time. The question can be ruled out by explaining that’s how they want to prevent Taliban to make plans ahead of them.
17 years’ of war against Taliban still have no timeline when it will end but Mr. Trump seems as adamant as he said, “Our troops will fight to win. We will fight to win, From now on, victory will have a clear definition. Attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al-Quaida, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan and stopping mass terror attacks against the United States before they occur.”
On what grounds it will be happening, he understands US needs allies and global partners to support his new strategy although not as new as he sounds. He seeks support with additional troop and funding increases in line with their own.
At this moment where west is witnessing other terrorist activities from other terrorist organizations, the support Mr. Trump is seeking from international community depends upon how that community will respond to that.
In the USA, the troop withdrawal idea always enjoys attention among policy makers and voters since 2008 elections till now. Former President Barack Obama had faced same pressure in Washington to withdraw and the pressure was due to the spending in the war which bears no fruit. Similarly, Trump’s plan for Afghanistan is a disappointment to those who had called for an end to foreign intervention and nation-building.
On the other hand, as last week Taliban issued an open letter to Trump warning against a troop surge, they aren’t ready for any peace talks, at least not until the US and NATO give a time frame for withdrawal something Trump says isn’t going to happen.
Things are really unclear as far as this policy is concerned. Talking about Pakistan, Mr. Trump said. “It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order and to peace.” The US, Pakistan relationship has been tricky in recent times. Both countries collaborated on counter-terrorism activities and challenges, but USA has often maintained its point about the Pakistan’s inability to present a united front against terrorism and always demanded to do more.
Pakistan has long rejected the notion that it is a safe haven for terrorists. But US hasn’t seemed to believe in it and they are trying to address this trust deficit by a warning as given by Mr Trump in his speech. Trump administration officials have also been discussing steps to reduce aid, sanctions and perhaps expand the authority to conduct air strikes on Pakistan’s side of the border.
Knowing Trump ego is bigger than his head, Trumps foreign policy and action about Pak-Afghan region seems like breaking away from Obama legacy or maybe he later reverse his statements next week, remember Charlottesville?
Considering the present scenario Pakistan should be ready, the world is not going to end if Trump wants USA to break up with Pakistan. Pakistan should take a position that military aid was being given all these years to have our support in eradicating terrorism in Afghanistan and to clean the mess Pakistan has faced as a result of its cooperation in the war on terror.
Pakistan should make clear to USA we aren’t going to take dictation anymore in the exchange of aid if they are going to cut the aid it is a great time to get over this break up, should take our sovereignty serious and clear all fanatical activities in and outside our borders. Pakistan should work on its foreign policy towards building coalitions with those countries who are already parting ways from US due to President Trump hardline policies, we have seen Canada, France and Germany role in the Syrian immigrants issue as well as climate control to name a few.
Pakistan should identify its complex issues and need a plan to fix it. Having China along who came forward to denounce the policy even before Pakistan’s foreign office and CPEC Pakistan has to expand options and its value to enhance the power by making new alliances and coalition.
In today’s time everyone is looking for stable borders, better relationships and the approach to identify frontier economies that offer the best opportunities.