AIR spotlight summary on “US Slams Pakistan Over Terrorism”.
- S. President Donald Trump’s New Year tweet has accused Pakistan on engaging in lies and deceit and said that US has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years. The US wants Pakistan to do more and Pakistan has said they cannot do more.
- The tweet by Donald Trump is another indication of the thinking which underlines his policy. There is a sense of great impatience in the US and particularly about Pakistan policy towards Afghanistan and providing safe haven to terrorists. The tweet comes after number of steps the US has taken against Pakistan in 2017 and it’s the culmination of all the process.
Why this hard stance by US?
- There has been a sense of great frustration in US with regard to Pakistan since atleast 2005. The same sense of frustration had emerged from President Bush, much more evident during tenure of Obama and in the present regime the older thinking has crystallised. There is a sense of great impatience and anger about the Pakistan’s policies in the past 7 to 8 years. From 2011-12, the US aid to Pakistan started declining and now it declined sharply.
- US have developed other means and supply routes for reaching out to Afghanistan and so the dependence on Pakistan has reduced. In 2011-12 there were number of US-Pakistan crisis like detection of Osama Bin Laden, Salala incident, closure of the ground communication linkages to Afghanistan due to blockages by Pakistan Army. These multiple crisis might have led to rethinking in US administration about the aid to Pakistan. Now we see the crystallisation of the trend with very strong position taken by the President itself. This no longer an institutional thinking, but thinking led by the President and so it is very much significant.
- There is continued deterioration of security situation in Afghanistan and no improvements on the ground. There have been very bad terrorist attacks recently in Afghanistan and some months ago US base was also attacked. Over the years there have been numerous terrorist incidents and according to Afghan sources many of these are linked to terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan.
- The US stopping aid to Pakistan may well be the start of a process where harsh measures may be announced in terms of aid, stronger economic sanctions or military strikes.
US assistance to Pakistan
- Despite the periodic frustration, the money has been poured into Pakistan. When Trump says, US has foolishly given money to Pakistan, it is condemning the Bush administration. There is an impression that arms lobby in US is very strong and wants to supply arms to Pakistan and Pakistan has a strong lobby in US’s state department. The location of Pakistan has geo-political significance and it has nuclear weapons. So these are reasons for US to remain engaged with Pakistan.
- The US has given more than 33 billion dollars as Donald Trump says, but there is very little to show for it in Pakistan in terms of infrastructure projects or anything on ground which adds to the country’s economy.
Reaction from Pakistan
- The US pressure plays a key role in moulding public opinion in Pakistan because Pakistan has very strong linkages with the US at societal, cultural and economic level. This kind of US outspokenness will lead to rethinking among people in Pakistan about Pakistan’s policies.
- The reaction from Pakistan will be it would strengthen anti-US sentiments and in the process the extremist elements who want to come to the mainstream of politics would be strengthened. On the other hand it would lead to deeper rethinking among many sections in Pakistan whether they are following the right set of policies. Pakistan has very poor international image and it is getting worse over the past 2.5 decade.
- There is a strong perception that Pakistan has come to a no more situation and ready to frustrate US because of Chinese support like China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Beijing will come to the aid of Pakistan. Friendship with China acts as a psychological boost to people and policy makers in Pakistan. How China will react needs to be seen.
How India must view this?
- This matter has certain implications for India and we should see it as one more step towards counselling Pakistan to come back to the right track by abandoning policies which are counterproductive, against the regional interest and even against Pakistani interest.