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Trump’s new Afghan policy: continuation of war on terror

By Shabeer Ahmad Parrey

Trump’s recent warning to Pakistan “to do more” and stop giving “safe havens” to terrorist was not in any way different from George W Bush’s warning after 9/11 that “you are either with us or with them”. This has sent shock waves across Pakistan and has become main issue of debate and discussion at all military, government and public forums.  The warning is clear, Pakistan cannot take so unlikely. However the confidence with which Qamar Javed Bhajwa, the chief of army staff of Pakistan showed, while speaking to his counterpart of American ambassador that Pakistan was not looking for any materials or financial assistance from USA but trust, understanding and acknowledgement of contribution that Pakistan made, was fully sponsored by China and Russia because Pakistan knows that China is ready to aid more than US because of her stakes in Pakistan. But still there are some vital and fascinating questions which we may focus on.

The first was that Why Was Pakistan targeted in such a manner that her 70000 sacrifices valued zero before US in comparison to India who has suffered very little in this war on terror. There are number of reasons for this but some are more obvious that are in discussion on the surface. The US Pak relationship has been always strategic and built and cared by their respective militaries and political relationship served secondary part only.  US Pakistan became close allies during Cold War era due to Pakistan’s effective role against Russian in Afghanistan. However this took a major turn soon the USSR got disintegrated in 1990s, the changing realities brought it up that India fits best in American new world order of business or end of history project because of being largest democracy and offering a huge market for US goods and services. However 9/11 brought Pakistan again closer to USA who provided air space to US for striking Taliban regime in Afghanistan. But all this began to fade due to new realities. After Modi came in power in India, Ashraf Ghani in Afghanistan and Trump in US, the Pakistani establishment started to get weak and weak, either due to her lethargic diplomacy and lobbies in US in comparison with Indian diplomacy and Pakistan failed again to get closer to US Congress.  With that Pakistan until recently has appointed its foreign minister which stood vacant for last couple of years. With this the changing geostrategic circumstances can’t be shun away that brought US closer to India and Pakistan to China in this south Asian and south East Asian region. With that the Pakistan’s long standing policy towards terrorists as “good Taliban and bad Taliban” and, of still harboring number of wanted haqanis in Pakistan by USA which resulted in aid cuts and aggressive approach of US towards Pakistan.

What can be USA’s immediate action? Trump, as seen by many is unpredictable; however there is no denying the fact that he is more aggressive too.  Striking on Syria, dropping mother of all bombs in Afghanistan, sending troops to South China Sea are some important examples in this apprehension. There may or may not be a similar kind of action against Pakistan, through drone attacks or economic sanctions. But action will be there.

Pakistan realized this time that something worst may happen and that is the reason they immediately began to meet and discuss this issue and took a decision to send their foreign minister to US. However they may do homework before that by consulting China, Russia Afghanistan and Iran even India. However one thing is clear that Pakistan, due to changing geostrategic shifts is confident enough that China and Russia may help her even they themselves are more interested in bringing peace to Afghanistan. However Haqanis are not going to be tolerated anymore. What can India do? India has been asked to assist and help more in rebuilding and reconstruction however it shall be India’s folly to send her troops into Afghanistan that may drag her in long drawn war on terror at much cost which she could not bear.

Post Script: USA, in real sense has lost war in Afghanistan like that of Vietnam. But her decision of sending more 4000 troops into Afghanistan brings this thing clear that she still relies on military solution in which she failed miserably from last seventeen years. The only solution of the problem is by opening gates for negotiations with Taliban leaders and providing some genuine space to them, in which Pakistan can help US more than India or Henry Kissinger has rightly observed about the Diplomacy “Behind the slogans lay an intellectual vacuum.” As war is always failure of Diplomacy.

Shabeer Ahmad Parrey is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Government Degree College  Bandipora, Kashmir

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