By Dr Ali Ahmad
2 September, 2017
Unmasking the long awaited results of his policy review of the Afghanistan war, President Donald Trump has recently announced that American troops would stay in the country without a timetable for withdrawal, with other reports declaring that 4,000 further troops would be added.
Mr Trump’s speech also included two important new statements. He launched an attack on Pakistan, declaring: “we have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting.”
The Trump administration has threatened a range of punishments, including sanctions on Pakistani officials. Pakistan, however, reflects itself quite independent and free from any potential financial crisis in the absence of US aid.
Pakistan has cooperated immensely in the fight against terrorists and since the start of Afghan war, Pakistan has allowed the use of its territory to supply international troops in landlocked Afghanistan, tacitly accepted American drones over its airspace, and co-operated with Western intelligence agencies against some terrorist groups like Al Qaeda.
But recently , the growing mistrust between Pakistan and the US has led the genesis of a highly strong triangle of Russia-China-Pakistan.
Furthermore, Pakistan cannot be ignored if a peaceful solution is being desired to Afghan issue.
It is quite clear that Pakistan is capable of taking any counter action against any action. In past crises, Pakistan has blocked Nato supply routes into Afghanistan, such as the Khyber Pass.
There are alternative routes via Iran and Russia-dominated Central Asia, but the Trump administration’s relations with Tehran and Moscow are even worse.
Beyond this, Pakistan could also shoot American drones out of the sky, ramp up its support for the Taliban, or halt intelligence co-operation entirely. The question is whether Pakistan would have to consider the consequences, from losing out on IMF bailouts to provoking open US air strikes. Being a component of the strong tripartite alliance, Pakistan is increasingly confident in the support of Beijing, which is investing tens of billions of dollars in the country as part of the ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It’s entirely clear how far China is willing to go to bail out Pakistan, financially or politically.
The United States should be realistic about India’s potential role. Delhi does not have the capacity to do too much more. It requires co-operation with its old partners Russia or Iran to send military supplies, but both those countries have expanded their own ties with Pakistan in recent years.
The United States however will not engage itself in a direct war with Pakistan because the start of World War III will become a possibility.