Pakistan, US and terror

Ever since he became the President of the United States, Donald Trump has been showing, at least verbally, a growing impatience with Pakistan’s double-faced stand on terrorism and terrorists: proclaiming from the housetop that it is fully committed in its battle against terrorism and that it is itself a victim of terrorism, while on the other promoting terrorism and terror attacks against India and Afghanistan as a matter of State policy. Its duplicity is brazen and all-too-visible. President Trump’s latest New Year broadside against Pakistan is the strongest: “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”
The last two words have been interpreted by sections of the Indian media as meaning that Trump has decided to stop all financial aid to Pakistan. No such hasty conclusions are warranted. The growing Pakistan-China axis has more than a mere Asian dimension. A Pakistan cornered by the US may step up terrorist attacks on Afghanistan, targeting particularly Indian and US missions and projects financed by them. The writ of the Ashraf Ghani Government does not extend much beyond the perimeter of Kabul. This is a fact which has impelled Washington to try to come to an understanding with the Afghan Taliban, if necessary by accommodating them in the Government.
Secondly, the US has been a staunch ally of Pakistan despite the latter’s systematic terror attacks on India including 26/11 in which even US citizens were killed. There are elements sympathetic to Pakistan in the State Department – people who have always kept up the pretence that Pakistan was an ally of the US in its ‘global war on terrorism’ knowing full well that it was nothing but a figment of imagination. It is these people in the White House who have all along talked about keeping a military ‘parity’ between India and Pakistan. So, India will have to wait and watch developments in US-Pakistan relationship following Trump’s latest outburst. In diplomacy, often what is meant is not always said and what is said is not always meant. India will have to depend on its own strength to fight Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. Expecting too much from Washington in this regard may be premature.

Saturday, 6 January, 2018