An influential group of US lawmakers have welcomed the new South Asia strategy unveiled by President Donald Trump which hold Pakistan accountable for its actions and continued presence of terrorist safe havens. “We appreciate the President’s renewed pressure on Pakistan to cooperate in the fight against terrorists, and hold Pakistan to account for supporting extremists. The President made it clear that we are not into nation building, but focused on protecting our citizens from terrorism,” Senator John Hoeven said.
“We want to bring our troops home as soon as we can but it has to be under the right conditions and when we know that our national security is protected against terrorism,” he said, adding that the President is right to emphasise victory and not political timetables for US deployments to Afghanistan.
“While additional US forces could be deployed in the right capacity, such as training Afghan forces and providing powerful air support to Afghan fighters on the ground, the Afghani troops need to be the ones in combat efforts on the ground,” Hoeven said.
Even as he welcomed the new Afghan and South Asia policy of Trump, Senator Steve Chabot still has doubts if Pakistan will act in a manner that satisfies the US.
“President Trump stated that other countries in the region are key to our success in Afghanistan – Pakistan and India in particular. And he’s right. However, I have a high degree of scepticism that we’ll have much success in getting their cooperation – particularly Pakistan. I hope I’m wrong,” the Republican Senator from Ohio said.
“Overall, I think our President has come up with a very credible plan for pulling victory out of the jaws of defeat in Afghanistan,” he said.
“Trump promised not only to keep the enemy guessing, but to unshackle our military leaders, and our troops, so they can do whatever is necessary to win. No more too-restrictive rules of engagement – no more micromanaging our war fighters. And rather than being time-based (how long we’re staying) Trump will focus on conditions on the ground (is what we’re doing working?),” Chabot said.
“I guess it’s pretty obvious that I think President Trump’s new strategy IS the right way to go. However, three caveats. President Trump said our new policy is killing terrorists, not nation-building,” he said.
“And there’s no question that the term “nation-building” is one that has nowadays fallen into a category that is easily, and almost universally, disparaged. But the reality is that some elements of nation-building are likely to be a part of the Trump plan in Afghanistan, even if we don’t call them that,” he added.
However, Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy was critical of the Trump’s plan.
“After blaming his predecessors and calling for an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan during the campaign, President Trump has swung 180 degrees,” Leahy said.
“His solution to a 16-year war involving hundreds of thousands of American troops, many of whom have served multiple tours, is to send more troops and abandon the Obama administration’s focus on developing a partner in the Afghan government capable of ensuring their own security. This is not a strategy,” he said.
“The President can call it a plan to defeat terrorism – which has been the goal since 9/11 – but the reality is that it is an open-ended ‘plan’ devoid of details, without a credible explanation of how he intends to do so, over what period of time, and at what cost, and what his plan is if Pakistan continues to play both sides,” Leahy said.