Last week saw a sharp turn of events in US-Pakistan relations after President Donald Trump announced his new Afghan policy, terming Pakistan as the ‘root of chaos’ in the region. His remarks were met with consternation in Pakistan that later led to condemnation of his renewed policy on the region.
On Sunday, Pakistan requested the postponement of acting United States Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Alice Wells’ trip to Islamabad. The move reflects Pakistan’s offensive stance and its efforts to express its discontent with the policy rethink.
Importantly, Pakistan has been able to garner the support of China, Russia and Turkey in the wake of President Trump’s remarks. China, in particular, was quick to defend Pakistan demanding the recognition of its counter terrorism efforts.
Trump’s strong and uninformed remarks regarding counter terrorism in Pakistan had gone above and beyond the usual rhetoric of ‘do more’ repeated by successive US governments. And US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s views following Trump’s only served to add to the aggression when said that the US had ‘leverage’ over Pakistan. Though, here in Pakistan, it appears that the US embassy tried to cover up for the President’s remarks when Ambassador David Hale held separate meetings to brief government officials about the new policy.
It appears that Trump’s much-awaited policy on South Asia has pushed the foreign policy and security establishment in Pakistan to rethink their positioning. With the crucial economic and military support of long-time ally China, Pakistan is now able to show how dearly it values its efforts and no longer requires close ties with an ally who refuses to acknowledge the losses Pakistan has suffered in the war against terrorism.
However, the government must endure to keep up diplomatic relations with the US as it is crucial for security in the region. And despite the offensive posturing, it appears that Pakistan is willing to work with the US in a constructive way on issues ranging from elimination of safe havens inside Afghanistan, better border management, and re-invigoration of the peace process for political settlement in Afghanistan.
Moreover, instead of focusing on responding to negligent remarks, Pakistan seems more eager to renew its commitment to the strategy for peace in Afghanistan, which it believes should be “Afghan-led”.
Daily Times, August 29, 2017