Washington casts aside Pakistan as purpose served
In his first tweet of 2018, US President Donald Trump opened fire on Pakistan. He wrote, “the United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”
It is unimaginable how much outrage this tweet can create in Pakistan. Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif soon responded that “We have already told the US that we will not do more, so Trump’s ‘no more’ does not hold any importance.”
Pakistan has made tremendous contributions and sacrifices to the international anti-terrorism campaign. Since the outbreak of the Afghan war in 2001, Pakistan has been the biggest support base for US military operations in Afghanistan. Until today, the nation is still a part of the crucial onshore supply line for US troops in Afghanistan.
Being involved in the Afghan war triggered political divergences in Pakistan. Meanwhile, the country has been hit hard by terrorism. It is facing a severe long-term anti-terror task.
New Delhi has been accusing Pakistan of providing shelter for terrorists who attacked India. Such a view coincides with US allegations that Islamabad is not helpful in fighting terror. With regard to the Pakistani government’s poor ability to control some of its tribal areas, Washington and New Delhi refuse to show sympathy.
If the US and Pakistan break up, then Islamabad will be forced to move closer to China and Russia. Since China and Pakistan enjoy an all-weather strategic partnership of cooperation, Beijing will without doubt not give up on Islamabad. Pakistan is also the only Islamic country in the world that has nuclear weapons. If the nation is pushed to the limit, the results could be disastrous.
A major reason for the fact that Washington dares to humiliate Islamabad now is that it does not depend on the country the way it used to. The scale of today’s US troops in Afghanistan is much smaller than before. Washington is casting Pakistan aside now Islamabad has served its purpose.
The Trump administration’s decision might also be linked to the Indo-Pacific strategy proposed not long ago. Washington could rope in New Delhi more closely through the move. A spokesperson for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party welcomed Trump’s tweet.
Trump might also want to save some pennies. Since taking office, his administration is eyeing both big and small fortunes, squeezing other countries to contribute to a lazy American society.
China should continue strengthening its friendly cooperation with Pakistan, making it feel that its all-weather friend is reliable. But Chinese should not fall into the logic of confronting the Indo-Pacific strategy. We do not want to make India think that China’s support for Pakistan is aimed at New Delhi.