Donald Trump’s first tweet of 2018 threw South Asian politics in serious crisis by declaring Pakistan to be a “safe haven to terrorists.” Proclaiming that the last U.S. administration was a ‘fool’, Donald Trump expressed his anger against Pakistan’s non-cooperation in the ongoing war on terror. Trump declared that ‘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’.
Pak-US relations have been extremely complex throughout history despite the fact that Pakistan has endeavoured to prove its sincerity in cooperation and true spirit of friendly relations. Washington has utilised Pakistan’s airbases and human resource when required but it has repeatedly disowned the country when it approached some comfort zone in the region’s affairs.
The U.S. government fully supported General Zia-ul-Haq’s martial law in order to win and exploit Pakistan’s cooperation against the Soviet onslaught in Afghanistan. However when the war came to an end, America became a stranger.
After the 9/11 incident, Pak-US relations experienced many ups and downs such as they had done over their past history. Pakistan discernibly assured its every cooperation with America. However it also sent a clear message that they would not go to the extent they had done in the past when U.S. policymakers used Pakistani religious groups and created Talibans, changing the meanings of ‘secularism’ and permeated a new sense of ‘Jihad’ and political Islam which Pakistan is still dearly paying for.
In the war on terror, extreme religious groups and the Pakistani establishment were sure of America’s passive and indifferent response after their win, or departure, from Afghanistan. It convinced the Pakistani government to move carefully ahead towards a higher level of cooperation and the same was freely expressed by the Pakistani officials and journalists. Hillary Clinton and various US officials gave Pakistan the assurance of America’s sincere friendship in the future. With that in mind, the Pakistani government took action against the extremist religious parties banned by the U.S. and launched military operations in the country’s troubled areas.
Surprisingly, this did not please members of the U.S. administration who thought Pakistan was deceiving them in many ways. America’s dismay at the stance taken by Pakistanis is not a new policy from President Donald Trump. Rather it is the same stance that prevailed during the Musharraf regime. The U.S. desired Pakistan to surrender all its affairs relating to Afghanistan. Surely, Pakistan cannot compromise on its sovereignty and has to protect its interests. Afghanistan, being a ‘sphere of influence’, is very important to Pakistan and it will never accept any major policy shift in this case.
On the other hand, America facilitated India to open its offices in several Afghan cities from where funding to the anti-Pakistan groups in Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is managed. Kalbhushan Yadav is an undeniable evidence of Indian conspiracy against Pakistan.
President Trump’s anger and outburst against Pakistan has led to complex perceptions in Pakistan despite an agreed official agenda of condemnation and rejection of the U.S. President’s allegations. The political parties in Pakistan are united against United State’s aggressive policy. The Pakistan Foreign Office summoned the U.S. Ambassador, David Hale, to register its strong reaction regarding President Trump’s accusations.
The government has also taken measures against the banned Jamaat-ud-Dawa to avoid any embarrassment at international level since US has always used the United Nations for its own interests. Pakistan’s representative has expressed her anger at Trump’s order to accept Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Some Pakistani analysts, having studied the situation over the last few years, have ventured their opinion that the U.S. will continuously embarrass Pakistan until the establishment steps back on the corruption cases brought against ex-Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Shareef. India and US both desire that the corruption cases against Shareef should be shelved forever. The U.S. clearly launches its idealistic plans through money-seeking and money-awarding allies, and the ongoing visit of Mian Nawaz Shareef, Shahbaz Shareef to Saudi Arabia may well be a part of US interference in Pakistani politics.
The Pakistan Army’s policy is that trust is more important than America’s money. This was the alarming message sent to the U.S. establishment by Pakistan’s Army Chief, General Bajwa. However a weak economy, corrupt politics and maladministration of Pakistan gives the US administration hope to be able to bring Pakistan to its knees.
Another perception is that the US wants to sabotage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor which will have a decisive role in international and regional politics in the coming decades. Apparently, Donald Trump seems to favour India, if this is so, then it could create a serious crisis in the South Asian region because China is a major stakeholder in international politics now while the US still wants to play a role as a unipolar power.
America’s ability to stay on top and sole power is not possible as it has opened fronts in Afghanistan, the Middle East, Korea and now South Asia; therefore, U.S. policy in South Asia will prove counter-productive, which in the end will lead to restoring the previous policy of Obama’s days.
It seems the American establishment is using Trump in some international situations, but it is a dangerous manipulation and not good for world peace. America is gradually losing its allies and Pakistan, India and Iran will never be easy prey. In short, Pakistan has been fighting against terrorism and the world has witnessed its great sacrifices in this regard. Despite all Trump’s furious manipulations and tweets, Pakistan’s policy will not change. Instead, America will have to do a U-turn sooner or later on its aggressive policy in the coming days.