Bullying tactics

After the US President Trump’s bashing of Pakistan, Vice president Mike Pence gave an open threat to it during his unscheduled visit of Kabul. On arrival at Bagram military base, he said, “Those days are over.”Pakistan had much to gain from partnership with the United States and much to lose by harboring “criminals and terrorists. “He alleged Pakistan had provided safe heavens to Taliban and other groups for too long. Talking to reporters after his meeting with Afghan leadership, Mike Pence said that President Donald Trump has agreed to an open-ended war against insurgents in Afghanistan. He said the strategy of increased troops on the ground and greater authority for military leaders was paying dividends “The results are really beginning to become evident around the country, “he added.

Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua., in a Senate Standing Committee Session, expressed deep concern over the US Vice President’s comments on Pakistan. She said the US must treat Pakistan and India on equal footing. She remarked that Pence comments were worrisome and Defense Secretary Mattis had assured Pakistan of resolving the issue of Afghan soil being used by terrorists to carry out attacks in Pakistan.

The United States has never reciprocated the goodwill and friendship of Pakistan ever since latter’s joined hands with the former in the military pacts in the decade of 1950s. The United States turned its back on this all times ally whenever this super power realized its strategic objectives in this region. After the withdrawal of Soviet Union troops from Afghanistan, the US dumped Pakistan and never looked back. In the wake of 9/11 incident Pakistan extended its helping hand in war on terror but its partnership was looked through a prism suspicion and mistrust with a demand of “do more “and accusations of safe heavens for terrorists on its soil. Once in President Barak Obama administration, the then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton in her visit to Islamabad added a demand of “do better.”Pakistan lost 70000 civilians and 8000 troops in partnership with the United States in war on terror. The economic loss is well over $ 100 billion. But these sacrifices were not acknowledged and the blame game continued.

Ironically, the ruling political leadership is not taking cognizance of the Trump administration South Asia Policy and Afghan Strategy.  Unlike the Obama administration, the present one is keen on military solution of Afghanistan by sending more troops and giving greater say to military leadership in the decision making process. The incumbent Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and the foreign minister Khwaja Asif are more concerned about the future of disqualified former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and PML-N prospects of winning next general elections. Afghan policy formulation does not seem to be the first priority. Immediate response to Mike Pence’s statement should have come from the Prime Minster and foreign minister. Repudiation of the US Vice President allegation by the top political leadership cast greater impact than the one given by a senior government functionary. Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States appears to be on joy ride because he is not performing his job of diplomacy like our career diplomats posted in Washington till the end of the decade of 1990s. To remove the trust deficit between the United States and Pakistan, frequent engagement at the foreign minister’s level is inevitable in case the present government realizes it the top priority.

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