Trump’s latest speech undermines Pakistan’s efforts in fighting terrorism

By Aftab Hussain Source:Global Times Published: 2017/8/28 19:43:39

US President Donald Trump's speech on Tuesday last week has sparked a debate in Pakistan about Pakistan-US relations and foreign policy experts have been pressing the US government to revisit its bilateral ties with the Islamic Republic.

In his speech, Trump announced new US policy for Afghanistan and South Asia and was critical about the role of Pakistan in the region, blaming the country for harboring terrorism.

He also mentioned that, despite receiving billions of dollars in aid money, Pakistan has not only failed to defeat terrorism in the region, it is on the contrary providing safe havens for terrorist organizations.

The Pakistani government, on the other hand, has expressed its commitment to working with the international community towards the common objective of eradicating terrorism and promoting peace and stability in Asia.

Chief of Army Staff, Gen Qamar Bajwa, has told the US that Pakistan does not need American aid. However, such a statement indicates that American policy shift in the region is widening the trench of distrust between both countries. Islamabad has been expecting American aid to decrease even more since last year, when the US decided to cut both military and economic aid to Pakistan.

Political analysts in Pakistan consider Trump's speech as containing serious and baseless allegations against the country, which could result in the deterioration of Islamabad-Washington ties. Instead of praising the role of Pakistan, the US has yet again betrayed the people of Pakistan by undermining their efforts in the Global War on Terror (GWOT).

Since October 2001, the US has been engaged with Afghanistan and with its powerful military and technology. Despite spending billions of dollars, she has not been able to combat the Taliban or IS.

In fact, more than 40 percent of populated areas in Afghanistan are still controlled by such terrorist groups.

The US just does not want to admit its defeat there, like it was defeated in Iraq, and before that in Vietnam.

How can the US expect Pakistan to eliminate terrorism overnight with its limited resources, limited technology and hostile neighbor (India), which is spending huge amounts of money to destabilize the country?

Nonetheless, Pakistan has achieved a lot in terms of curbing the menace of terrorism. The people have made huge sacrifices in fighting it. In all these years, 2,403 US troops have been killed in Afghanistan.

By contrast, while acting as a frontline state in the GWOT, more than 70,000 Pakistani people have lost their lives. The nation has also suffered economic losses amounting to billions of dollars. American aid provided to Pakistan is incomparable to the economic loss incurred on Pakistan because of the GWOT.

Pakistan is an important regional country and without its involvement, the US cannot solve the issues in Afghanistan. What the US needs to do is to make a policy which considers the geo-political realities in the region.

Afghanistan has become a "bone stuck in the American throat;" it neither can swallow it nor wants to. If the US sees India as playing a greater role in Afghanistan, it would become yet another mistake that would make things worse rather than better.

Islamabad has more advantages when it comes to Afghanistan than any other country. Geographical proximity, the Pashtun link, religious and socio-cultural ties and historical bonds are to name a few.

But the US is not ready to help Pakistan bring peace in Afghanistan, because it may not be in the national interest of the US. However, Afghans will never agree on any foreign solution for their local problem, dissent that still occurs today.

The US is seen by the world as an advanced and civilized nation and a role model for many countries in terms of its development and contribution to science and technology, democracy, human rights, education and exploration.

But unfortunately, the recent decisions of its political leadership are doing nothing but fueling the fire of anti-Americanism around the world.

The US needs to learn from China, which through its soft power has not only developed itself, but is helping its partner countries to develop too.

The world expects more serious policies from the Trump administration, which, in return, would ensure peace and stability instead of conflict around the world.

Aftab Hussain, a Shanghai-based Pakistani research scholar of international relations. He can be contacted at aftabhussein@hotmail.com

Posted in: LETTERS

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