Donald Trump’s latest policy on Afghanistan has effectively put Pakistan on notice to end terror safe havens operating from its territory. Not only this, the US has also decided to chart a bigger role for India in Afghanistan. The twin decisions have rattled Pakistan, the country which openly provides home to designated international terror organisations.
Trump’s decisions marks one of the biggest shift in the US policy vis-a-vis Pakistan. Under Trump administration, Washington finds its ties with India more beneficial in the long run than that with Pakistan, though the latter was an all-weather US ally for decades. The presence of terror organisations on Pakistani soil has been known to the US for decades. But only now it has dawned on Washington that Pakistan cannot be left free to harbour terror organistantions.
Trump’s harsh message for Pakistan has left only two options for the latter: Either join the US fight against terror along with India, or be prepared to face the wrath of the world’s biggest power. With Pakistan getting all support from China recently, it is unlikely Islamabad will pay heed to Trump’s demands and may end up as a permanent US adversary.
On Monday, Trump announced his new Afghanistan policy and outlined how Pakistan-based terror outfits are threatening US interests. Here’s what he said:
“…the security threats we face in Afghanistan and the broader region are immense. Today, 20 U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organizations are active in Afghanistan and Pakistan — the highest concentration in any region anywhere in the world. For its part, Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror. The threat is worse because Pakistan and India are two nuclear-armed states whose tense relations threaten to spiral into conflict. And that could happen”
“In a clear message to Pakistan, Trump said, “We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond. Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists. In the past, Pakistan has been a valued partner…But Pakistan has also sheltered the same organizations that try every single day to kill our people. We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting.
“But that will have to change, and that will change immediately. No partnership can survive a country’s harboring of militants and terrorists who target U.S. service members and officials. It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order, and to peace.”
On India’s role in Afghanistan, Trump said:
“Another critical part of the South Asia strategy for America is to further develop its strategic partnership with India — the world’s largest democracy and a key security and economic partner of the United States. We appreciate India’s important contributions to stability in Afghanistan, but India makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States, and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development. We are committed to pursuing our shared objectives for peace and security in South Asia and the broader Indo-Pacific region.”
Soon after Trump’s speech was over, nervous reactions started coming from Pakistan. Commenting on Trump’s decision to increaase India’s role in Afghanistan, Pakistan former High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit tweeted, “Asking for more India’s involvement in Afghanistan is a sure recipe for more disaster. US is either clueless or deliberately complicating matters in Afghanistan.”
Rahimullah Yusufzai, a Pakistani expert on Taliban affairs told The New International that Trump’s new policy was an “open threat to Pakistan”, while another expert Adil Nizam said, pakistan should “fully reciprocate” to the US threat.
Reactions also came from Taliban, which said Afghanistan will become another graveyard for the US. “If America doesn’t withdraw its troops, soon Afghanistan will become another graveyard for this superpower in the 21st century,” Pakistan Today quoted Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid as saying in a statement.