By Sajjad Shaukat
In the recent years, unbridgeable trust deficit existed between Pakistan and the United States because of America’s double game with Islamabad. But, President Donald Trump’s flawed strategy in South Asia, based upon anti-Pakistan moves, has taken the Pakistan-US ties to point of no return.
It is notable that during the heightened days of the Cold War, despite Pakistan’s membership of the US sponsored military alliances SEATO and CENTO, including Pak-US bilateral military agreement, America did not come to help Pakistan against India which separated the East Pakistan in 1971.
After the end of the Cold War, the US left both Pakistan and Afghanistan to face the fallout of the Afghan war 1. By manipulating the nuclear programme of Islamabad, the US imposed various sanctions on Pakistan.
But, after the 9/11 tragedy, America, again, needed Pakistan’s help and President George W. Bush insisted upon Islamabad to join the US global war on terror. Pakistan was not only facing acute financial crisis, but was also depending upon foreign loans, while all the major financial institutes like IMF and World Bank are controlled by America. Besides, Pakistan was also facing hostile factor of India. Taking cognizance of all the related-factors, Islamabad decided to join the US war on terror.
Pakistan was also granted the status of non-NATO ally by America due to the early successes, achieved by Pakistan’s Army and country’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) against the Al-Qaeda militants.
Within a few years, when the US-led NATO forces felt that they are failing in coping with the stiff resistance of the Taliban in Afghanistan, they started accusing Pak Army and ISI of supporting the Afghan Taliban. US high officials and their media not only blamed Pakistan for cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan, but also presumed that a plot to attack the US homeland would be prepared in FATA (Tribal areas) where safe-havens of Al-Qaeda exist. They constantly emphasized upon Pakistan to do more against the militants and continued the CIA-operated drone attacks on Pakistan’s tribal areas by ignoring the internal backlash in the country.
Reviving the double game as part of anti-Pakistan approach, President Donald Trump stated in his tweet on January 1, this year, “The US has foolishly given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”
Weeks earlier of this tweet, while, unveiling national security strategy, Trump had said, “We make massive payments every year to Pakistan. They have to help.”
In his speech on August 21, 2017, while announcing the US new strategy regarding Afghanistan as part of the policy in South Asia, President Donald Trump, particularly, singled out Pakistan for criticism.
Using tough words against the US ally Pakistan, Trump revived the old blame game of his predecessors Bush and Obama regarding the cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan by saying Washington could “no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations”, and threatened to target the terrorists’ sanctuaries in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Trump stated, “We have been paying Pakistan billions of dollars, at the same time, they are housing the very terrorists we are fighting…that must change immediately.”
As regards Pakistan’s regional rival India, Donald Trump added, “We appreciate India’s important contributions to stability in Afghanistan…We want them to help us more with Afghanistan.”
Meanwhile, on January 5, 2018, the US suspended $255 million of military aid to Islamabad as a condition to do more against terrorism.
Taking cognizance of the latest tweet of the President Trump, Pakistan’s civil and military leaders, including all the mainstream political parties united against the US aggressive stance against the country and offered a stark response to Trump’s false accusations.
In this regard, a high level meeting of National Security Committee (NSC), which included senior civil-military leaders was held on January 2, this year to discuss US President Donald Trump’s latest allegations about Pakistan.
Similarly, on January 4, 2017, the in-camera session of Parliamentary Committee on National Security was convened under the chairmanship of Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq in which all parties’ parliamentary leaders participated.
The meeting expressed concern at the assertion of the US President Trump and condemned it. After the meeting, Speaker Ayaz Sadiq told the journalists, “Pakistan wants to give a strong and balanced reaction on the US President’s statement…the parliament is not indifferent on defence of the country…all political parties have consensus on it and they are all on one page pertaining to national security, defence and prestige of Pakistan.”
After the committee’s meeting concluded, calling on the country to unite, Vice Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Shah Mehmood Qureshi addressed the media and pointed out that the pressure that Washington is exerting on Pakistan “will have implications on the entire region…We have to look at the situation in the Middle East, at relations between the US and Iran …We have to consider these things as they are part of the larger picture upon which our response must be formulated…Trump’s statement is of an unusual nature. We have to take it seriously…the figures put forward by Washington differ from the reality and that, during the fight against terror, Pakistan has taken up expenditures that the US is yet to reimburse.”
Defence Minister Ghulam Dastagir stated that, after 16 years of fighting terror, the US owed Pakistan $23 billion…of this amount, Pakistan has been paid $14bn and an amount of $9bn is pending.”
Besides, other politicians including PTI Chairman Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif rejected Trump’s blame game.
Chairman Imran Khan said, “Just as India blames Pakistan for the indigenous Kashmiri uprisings when these are a result of its own failed policy of repression in the Indian Occupied Kashmir…So the US again blames Pakistan for its deeply flawed and failed Afghan policy stretching over a decade…We must also reject being made scapegoats for the policy failures of the US and India…The new US policy is aimed at de-nuclearising Pakistan…India’s major role in Afghanistan as per Trump administration’s new strategy for the region will have adverse impacts on Pakistan…Trump had threatened Pakistan in open words and undermined the country’s major contributions towards that war. It seems Trump has no knowledge of this region. He does not know the dynamics of over a decade-old war the US has been fighting in Afghanistan…The Trump’s new strategy will further weaken the US government and its economy…If you want peace in Afghanistan, you need Pakistan. More troops and money will not serve the purpose.”
Pakistan’s Foreign minister Khawaja Asif remarked, “Terrorist sanctuaries are present in East Afghanistan. It is from these safe havens inside Afghanistan that terrorist attacks are being launched on Pakistan…The claim by Trump regarding the funds, if we account for it, they include reimbursements too for the services rendered by Pakistan…Our land, roads, rail and, other different kinds of services were used for which we were reimbursed.”
According to the earlier statement of the ISPR, “Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa stated that “Pakistan was not looking for any material or financial assistance from USA but trust, understanding and acknowledgement of our contributions…peace in Afghanistan is as important for Pakistan as for any other country.”
Trump’s tweets came a few days after the DG of ISPR Maj-Gen Asif Ghafoor said Pakistan had done enough and it was time for the United States and Afghanistan to do more.” He also urged the US to “check India’s anti-Pakistan role not only from inside of Afghanistan, but also through the enhanced and increased ceasefire violations along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary”.
It is mentionable that that ideal strategic location of Pakistan’s province of Balochistan, its abundant mineral resources such as gas, coal and gold, and Pakistan’s close ties with China pinch the eyes of the US, India, Israel and some Western countries like the UK, who have been destabilizing Pakistan for their collective aims.
While, India was openly opposing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative, the US also joined India in this respect. On October 3, 2017, US Defence Secretary James Mattis told the Lawmakers, “The United States has reiterated its support for India’s opposition to China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative…the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)”
In fact, CPEC which is part of the OBOR infuriates these foreign powers and has become special target of their intelligence agencies.
Notably, Pakistan is the only nuclear country in the Islamic World. Hence, the US-led India, Israel and some Western countries want to “denuclearize” Pakistan as part of the Zionist agenda.
Therefore, Pakistan was already on the hit-list of the US-led India and Israel, including some Western countries. But, after the shift of the Great Game from Central Asia to Pakistan, American CIA, Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad, including British MI6 had been supporting target killings, suicide attacks, hostage-takings, sectarian and ethnic violence in various cities of the country, while backing separatist elements in Balochistan.
As part of the dual strategy, based in Afghanistan, these intelligence agencies which have well-established their covert networks there and are well-penetrated in the terrorist outfits like the ISIL, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and their affiliated Taliban groups, are using their terrorists to destabilize Tibetan regions of China, Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan and Pakistan’s Balochistan by arranging the subversive activities.
While, Pakistan’s Armed Forces have successfully broken the backbone of the foreign-backed terrorists by the military operations Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasaad which have also been extended to other parts of the country, including Balochistan and Karachi. Army and top intelligence agency ISI have broken the network of these terrorist groups by capturing several militants, while thwarting a number of terror attempts. Peace has been restored in various regions of Pakistan, including Karachi and Balochistan.
But, these foreign elements have, again, started terror attacks in Balochistan and other regions of the country which show that the US-led India, Afghanistan and Israel want to weaken Pakistan and to damage the CPEC.
Although American Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama manipulated the 9/11 tragedy and its drastic aftermath to secure the illegitimate interests of Israel through the fake global war on terror which was, in fact, a war against the Islamic countries and the Muslims, as ground realities have proved, yet President Donald Trump has crossed all the limits in protecting the political, economic and religious interests of the Jews and Tel Aviv at the cost of Muslims and even patriot Americans. What the President Bush and the President Obama were doing secretly, President Trump has been doing openly.
Overtly, American high officials remark that they seek stability in Pakistan, while praising military operations against terrorism, but covertly, they continue destabilizing it, especially with the assistance of India as part of the anti-Pakistan and anti-China diplomacy.
Taking note of the US double game, Islamabad which has already strengthened its relations with China has also been cultivating its ties with Russia. In the recent past, Pakistan’s top officials have paid visit to Moscow. In this regard, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif has openly stated that Islamabad will prefer Russia over America.
It is worth-mentioning that in an interview to the “The Wall Street Journal” on January 5, 2018, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif said, “He sees his country’s alliance with the US as over after the Trump administration announced the suspension of U.S. security-related aid to Pakistan…This is n’ot how allies behave.”
Moreover, Pakistan is also improving its relations with Iran. In the end of last year, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa paid a visit to Tehran where he met Iranian civil and military high officials.
We may conclude that it is owing to the flawed strategy of President Donald Trump that Pakistan-US ties have reached point of no return.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations
Courtesy Veterans Today