By Adila Abbasi
US under Donald Trump administration is most likely to carry out revolutionary changes in the foreign policy. Whereas these changes are likely to cause a major geo-strategic shift in the balance of power, it would have a profound impact on the Muslim world. To us it is of great importance how he is likely to approach issues confronting south Asia, and in particular Indo-Pak long standing contentious issues.
Donald Trump’s telephon conversation with our PM prior to assuming office, raised high hopes. In it he had promised to play a lead role in finding solution to our outstanding problems with India. Some aspects which will figure prominently in new Pak-US relations could be, Do more on counter-terrorism, US is likely to put intense pressure on Pakistan to rein in proscribed and banned groups like Jaish and Lashkar-e-Tayaba. Treat India-Pak at par, Trump can’t ignore Pakistan or prefer over India since only a balanced approach towards the two nuclear powers could bring stability particularly in war torn Afghanistan.
US can’t remain oblivious to the opportunities opening up from CPEC both from strategic and economic point of view. Pak-US both can effectively exploit the inter-connectivity offered by the new silk route. The US administration is well aware that the real issue behind stalled and hostile Indo-Pak relations is the Kashmir dispute. Trump may well take a big initiative in intervening to resolve it.
Whereas it is too early to predict anything, however one can conclude, a fundamental shift in US policy is unlikely. Much will depend on Pakistan’s positive response to US demands on action against jehadi’s groups. US will also like Pakistan to play a more cooperative role in resolving the Afghan imbroglio. A big question mark hinges on how US develops relations with China. An India-first policy could emerge as a dominant in US, there for which Pakistan needs to prepare itself. Pakistan must have gone different foreign policy scenarios and work out contingencies to meet any eventuality.
Recently US think tanks have submitted a report to Trump Administration which have received little attention, for the first year of Trump rule, it would be unwise to designate Pakistan as a state sponsoring terrorism. US should review its intelligence on Pakistan’s involvement in providing support to terrorist groups. Pakistan will remain inflexible on to its stand on the Kashmir issue. Future relations with Pakistan should be based on relations appraisal of our policies, aspirations and world view. If a soft approach doesn’t work than harder measures should be taken.
Adila Abbasi is an MPhil (IR) Scholar from National Defence University in Islamabad.