The Trump administration is considering “unprecedented political penalties” on Pakistan for harbouring Afghan militants waging war on the US-backed Afghan government, a media report said today. While the report by Foreign Policy news portal gives no timeline for such an action, it says there is growing frustration among lawmakers, and the administration believes that Islamabad is doing bare minimum in the war against terrorism. “Amid growing frustration on Capitol Hill, Trump’s deputies are weighing unprecedented political penalties on Islamabad for harboring Afghan militants waging war on the US-backed government in Afghanistan,” the report said.
The options under consideration include revoking Pakistan’s status as a major non-NATO ally, permanently cutting off the US military aid that was suspended two months ago, and even imposing visa bans or other sanctions on individuals in the Pakistani government deemed responsible for providing support to the militants, the report said. No final decision has been taken yet, and the issue is still being debated inside the various wings of the Administration, the report said. The appointment last week of a fervent hawk as national security advisor, John Bolton, and the nomination of another for secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, could tilt the discussion in favor of tougher measures against Islamabad, the report noted.
“The White House is also weighing even more drastic measures to include visa bans or other punitive measures against individual members of the Pakistani government, military, or ISI intelligence service suspected of allowing the Taliban and Haqqani militants to operate from sanctuaries inside Pakistan,” the report said quoting unnamed present and former US officials. “We are prepared to do whatever is necessary to protect US personnel and interests in the region,” a senior administration official told reporters last week. According to the report, there is increasing frustration in the Trump Administration. “Pakistan is at risk of miscalculating the level of frustration both in Washington and other foreign governments,” a senior State Department official said.
“In the past, Pakistan has sought to take the minimum action required to placate US concerns without fundamentally altering their policy and strategy,” said the official. Pakistan’s former Ambassador to US, Husain Haqqani, said that the alliance with Pakistan no longer makes sense for the US. “The alliance with Pakistan no longer makes sense for the US because it undercuts US policy in Afghanistan as well as its effort to build a strategic relationship with India against China. It doesn’t make sense for Pakistan either,” he said.