Trump’s ultimatum to Islamabad

For the first time the USA under Donald Trump seems to have made up its mind on Pakistan as a country sponsoring terrorism as a State policy. Recently, US Defence Secretary James Mattis visited New Delhi and had long discussions with our Defence Minister Nirmala Seetharaman and senior Indian defence officials. He went back to Washington after being thoroughly briefed on Pakistan. He and General Josephs Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have made it plain to Pakistan that this time they mean business. The clear message given to Pakistan Army and its ISI is: either you stop terrorism, or else we will take all the measures that will hurt you. The steps being contemplated against Pakistan include choking of financial and military aid, withdrawing Pakistan’s status as a non-Nato ally of the USA and formally designating Pakistan as a terrorist State. The Trump Administration has also openly supported the Indian stand that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor cannot be supported as it passes through the Pakistan-occupied part of Kashmir.
If Washington chokes financial and military aid to Pakistan, Islamabad will only have China to fall back on. And Washington’s assessment is that China can offer very little to Pakistan to make up for the losses that Pakistan will suffer when faced with a cash crunch. Washington has rejected out of hand the ridiculous Pakistani argument that India and Afghanistan are sponsoring terrorism in Pakistan. General Dunford has bluntly told the Senate Armed Services Committee that “It is clear to me that the ISI has connections with terrorist groups.” In truth, this fact was known to the US administration for a long time but it was going soft on Pakistan despite knowing its role in sponsoring terrorism in the smug belief that Islamabad’s cooperation was essential as an ally in the “global war on terrorism”. Washington has now been disabused of this illusion.
Meanwhile, India is preparing to fight a two-front war with Pakistan and China simultaneously. Though the Doklam crisis has receded, officials in New Delhi have confirmed that India’s armed forces will remain in battle-readiness all along the Sino-Indian border, even through the winter. More divisions are being raised and acclimatized to fight a war in the high Himalayas. How real or imminent the threat from China is may be known only after the coming Party Congress of the CPC. If Xi is re-elected, he may decide to finish his ‘unfinished agenda’ on India. Doklam and Tawang are possible flashpoints. In any case India has to be fully prepared to face any eventuality in land, air and sea.

Saturday, 7 October, 2017