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The recent Twitter rant by US President Donald Trump about Pakistan saying they have given us nothing but lies and deceit in US war against terrorism in Afghanistan, that started after the 9/11 terrorist attack on twin towers back in the year 2001, is basically just an excuse for not winning the war in Afghanistan in more than 16 years. United States has invested trillions of dollars and lives of more than 2000 US soldiers in a war that is far from victory.
It is not the first time that the President has used stopping of funds as a threat to try to influence a course of action in line with his own ascertained reality. Before this Mr. Trump had indicated according to a senior White House official to abandon the alliance if NATO members did not commit 2% of their GDP to NATO operations. US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, in early 2017 meeting in Brussels, had said that the US will not care more for Europe’s security than they do.
Mr. Trump again threatened to stop US funding to countries that voted against the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem, a move that shocked many European and Arab allies, at the UN General Assembly. Mr. Trump, however, ended up cutting 250 million dollars in UN funding, a collective punishment instead of targeting any country because that would complicate its efforts of pursuing its interests in that country.
And now it’s Pakistan that had been threatened with funds being stopped for not doing enough to eliminate Haqanni network from Pakistani soil. According to recent reports, the US has officially blocked 255 million dollars aid to Pakistan. Pakistan has denied these allegations time to time saying that it is targeting all terrorists across the board in its operations.
The financial aid that Pakistan receives includes coalition support fund that is paid as services that have been provided by Pakistan for its support of US war against terrorism and according to some estimates, the actual aid amounts to a little over 18 billion dollars. After the Osama episode when Pakistan refused access for NATO shipments, it took a huge amount of effort and cost to transport the consignments to Afghanistan.
According to the statistics provided by Ministry of Finance earlier last year, Pakistan has suffered more than 123 billion dollars in a loss since the start of the war against terrorism in Afghanistan in 2001 apart from the thousands of lives that had been lost both civil and military. Pakistan has paid with the blood of its children as well after the brutal terrorist attack on Army Public School in Peshawar.
From its children to civil society to its armed forces and politicians, no one has been spared from the menace of terrorism that has started after US decision to invade Afghanistan in 2001. After the school carnage, the Pakistani nation as a whole supported its armed forces to eliminate terrorism from its soil and has since successfully curtailed to a large extent its devastating effects. Almost every terrorist attack in Pakistan these days can be traced back to Afghanistan from funding to logistics and training.
All the leaders of these outfits that are wanted for their crimes against people of Pakistan are residing in Afghanistan. Pakistani check posts are regularly being targeted from inside Afghanistan martyring many of our security personnel. US and NATO forces on the other side had been unable to stop these attacks meaning, if we follow Mr. Trump’s logic, they are harboring TTP terrorists inside Afghanistan to attack Pakistan.
Pakistan is security state and always feels threatened by an aggressive neighbor that has been busy in its unsuccessful attempts to isolate Pakistan internationally. In case of hostile government in Afghanistan, it will be forced to allocate more resources to defend two borders with similar alert levels hence hindering its ability to defend its self against two hostile forces.
Its apprehensions are evident from the Indian activities near its Afghan border and the amount of investment India has committed in Afghanistan with no apparent interest other than to destabilize Pakistan. Pakistan is always supportive of a political solution to Afghan crises meaning the Afghan Taliban should be invited for talks and recognized as a political force having its representation in the coalition government hence providing Pakistan some breathing space on its borders.
Pakistan has enough on its plate and fighting hard to eliminate terrorism. If Pakistan does not support peace negotiations, it will be making yet another enemy to reckon with. It is not in Pakistan’s long-term interest to initiate hostility with Afghan Taliban who at a later stage can prove to be a buffer against a hostile Afghanistan. Pakistan has always said that it does not provide safe havens to Afghan Taliban but it is always in favor of a peaceful resolution that allows them to be part of the government after it gave up its arms.
According to a New York Times report, Pakistani officials have denied access to an abductor who was captured recently in Pakistani military operation to rescue a Canadian couple abducted many years ago. After the successful operation, the Pakistani Government and military did not provide any information on any arrests. According to the report, the operation was being monitored by US drone while the information was passed to Pakistan to rescue the couple. Pakistan as a sovereign country has the right to deny such request even if the reports are true because the US has not publicly demanded any such access or provided any information on the capture.
Lord Palmerston, British statesmen and who was twice the Prime Minister in mid-19th century once said “we have no eternal allies and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow”. He was absolutely right as every state has to further its interests according to the changing circumstances and Pakistan just as the US is playing its cards to further its interests. The US aid comes with strings attached; it does not provide the aid for purely the benefit of Pakistan.
In these circumstances where Pakistan has to safeguard its own interest, it is now time to revise our policies that would not put us in a position to be manipulated by anyone. The world order is once again shifting to multipolar power sources as both China and Russia are flexing its muscles in the South China Sea and Syria respectively. Russia is also at odds with the western power over its annexation of Crimea and alleged unrest in Eastern Ukraine. The US also accuses China of not doing enough to stymie North Korea in its efforts of being capable of delivering long-range nuclear missiles that could reach US mainland.
Blame games and use of threat to stop funding will do no good to US interests in the long run. The US needs Pakistan to help achieve peace in Afghanistan. Had it not been for Pakistan decades ago, the US could not stop Russia taking over Afghanistan and could not definitely stay in Afghanistan this long.
Whatever it has achieved in Afghanistan is because of the logistical and intelligence support from Pakistan throughout. Pakistan has the ability to broker a peace deal between Afghan Government and Taliban that would end years of war and bring stability not only to Afghanistan but Pakistan as well. It is high time for US to address Pakistani security concerns and involvement of Indian activities to bring about peace in the region. Pakistan has shown the world that it has successfully eliminated terrorism on its soil to a greater extent with no safe havens for them in Pakistan. The US and NATO forces cannot claim such success.