Dr Muhammad Khan:
Once President Donald Trump was outlining new US Policy for South Asia (Afghan Policy) in his address at Fort Myer military base in Arlington, he was very blunt and irrational in making accusations against Pakistan. In his address, he said that, Pakistan provides, “safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror” and that, his new Afghan strategy will “change the approach in how to deal with Pakistan”. While making these charges, President Trump did not make a mention of safe havens, formally established by US backed Kabul regime in its bordering areas along Pak-Afghan border. These safe havens house thousands of terrorists, which include; TTP, terrorists of Afghan origin and now the IS elements. They have posed huge threats for the state and society of Pakistan as witnessed in the form of attacks, ever since 2014.
Had Trump been a rational personality, he should have at least made a mention of these elements with their perpetrators, objectives and particularly usage. A one sided approach of allegations against Pakistan has exposed the US prejudices towards Pakistan. If there are only accusations against Pakistan, the presence of terrorist’s hideouts on Afghan soil is a reality. These terrorists carryout terrorism in Pakistan with help of their abettors in Afghanistan. These abettors include; the Afghan spying network (NDS) and Indian intelligence agency (RAW) and they are fully supported by the spying network of occupation forces. It could have been a balanced approach had President Trump highlighted causes of instability in Pakistan along with the forces of this instability. The one sided picture has prematurely exposed the US biases against Pakistan.
The elements targeting US forces in Afghanistan (Taliban or Haqqanis), as indicated by Trump, are Afghans and reside inside Afghanistan. It is worth mentioning that, over 50% areas of that country is still under the influence of Taliban, who consider US as an illegal occupant of their homeland. Therefore, Trump’s warning that, ‘partnership with Pakistan could survive its “harbouring of militants and terrorists who target US service members and officials” is virtually incorrect and based on misperceptions, since he is not a statesman. Besides, Pakistan also feels that, it has gone extra mile in fulfilling its commitments of combating the terrorism and lost over 70,000 people in the process. Therefore, the Trump’s counselling like; “it is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilisation, order and to peace” is against the diplomatic norms, once assessed from the point of view of international relations. This threatening sentence is a direct threat to the sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan.
Pakistan cannot be accused of failed US strategies in Afghanistan. Despite Pakistani advices to US for resolving the Afghan problem through negotiations and peaceful means, US opted to use hard military power for one and half decade now. In the process, Afghan problem got further complicated and now US is scapegoating Pakistan for its failed strategies and ill-conceived policies in Afghanistan in particular and South Asia in general. Throughout his election campaign and thereafter till-date, Trump has been trumpeting for a disengagement from Afghanistan. And now, what forced the reversal of his original plan and policies. Perhaps, he could not sustain the pressure of powerful US establishment; the Pentagon, CIA and hawkish congressmen and senators. This mantra of doing more and accusation against Pakistan is an old rhetoric, coined by US establishment, to hide its failures and policy flaws or else to further the strategic objectives of United States.
No country in the region would be benefitted more than Pakistan, if there returns; peace, stability and economic prosperity in Afghanistan. It is considered view of the political leadership, the military establishment and people of Pakistan that, peace in Afghanistan is a pre-requisite for peace in Pakistan. Therefore, Pakistan cannot promote instability in Afghanistan by sheltering the militants on its soil. Nevertheless, Afghan Taliban is a reality which still control and influence a sizeable portion of that country. The best way to tackle the Afghan Taliban is to bring them on a negotiating table, the way Pakistan persuaded them to Murree round of talks in July 2015. US should be well aware of those, sabotaged the dialogue and why.
US has not given billions of billions of dollars to Pakistan in charity. Rather, U.S and NATO has used the Pakistan infrastructure for decades without paying the due amount. U.S has not given Pakistan, what it has promised in term of; Coalition Support Funds, the weapons and equipment needed to fight against terrorism. Above all, US military engagement in this region has retarded the economic opportunities, particularly the flow of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Pakistan.
Pakistan can no more take dictation from US and West. Compare to threatening language of President Trump, Pakistani Army Chief, General Bajwa has politely told US Ambassador, David Hale, that, “We are not looking for any material or financial assistance from the US, but trust, understanding and [an] acknowledgement of our contributions.” Indeed, a limited amount (the peanuts), Pakistan received from US during last sixteen years neither raised its economic status nor gave it an edge on military sphere. Gone are the days when Pakistan used to bank on US military hardware. It has grown its own military complex(s), sufficient in number and superior in qualitative to support any military operation for the defence of its motherland.
Let there be a rational thinking at Whitehouse and among the powerful US establishment about Pakistan and its strategic partnership. US need to take care of impoverish Afghan masses through a rational and comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan, rather promoting its strategic interests and those of Indians by making use of its handpicked Kabul guards. US military might cannot engulf Pakistan, since it is a nuclear state, supported by China and Russia at strategic level.
— The writer, Professor of Politics and International Relations, is based in Islamabad.
Dr Muhammad Khan:
Jul 11, 2019