President Trump’s Statement about Pakistan is Unrealistic
By Saeed Qureshi
If the relations between USA and Pakistan take a downturn, then this time it would be America which will be more at disadvantage than Pakistan. It should be understood that President Trumps’ threat to Pakistan and denunciation for harboring terrorism is not only unrealistic but a blessing in disguise for Pakistan.. In that situation Pakistan would be free to form a regional alliance with Russia, China, Iran and other friendly countries in the region which would be much more useful than what it has been maintaining with the USA all these years.
Pakistan is one state which helped America in fighting Taliban and Al-Qaida in Afghanistan for 15 years (2001-2016). If America reignites the same war now against the ISIS and some Taliban factions then it will have to fight that war alone. It will have to use the territory of the Central Asian states for transportation of army and military hardware which Russia is not going to allow.
Is president Trump oblivious of the resounding fact that but for Pakistan’s support USA could have been squarely defeated and indeed humiliated in Afghanistan. Is he aware that since the inception of the first civil war (1979-1989) in Afghanistan against Soviet Union, Pakistan is hosting four million refugees whose children have now also grown up and well settled in Pakistan? As a result, Pakistan immensely suffered economically and regionally due to the
military alliance with USA. Of late, it was with the help of Pakistan that the Navy Seals were able to reach Osama Bin Laden and kill him.
It should be understood that the American sponsored war in Afghanistan (2001-2017) is different from the Mujahedeen’s war against the Soviet Union which lasted from December 1979 to February 1989. In the first war the Insurgent groups known as the Mujahedeen fought against the Soviet Army and the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. In that bloody war around 562,000 to 2,000,000 civilians were killed and millions of Afghans fled the country as refugees mostly to Pakistan and Iran. Ever since Pakistan is hosting millions of Afghan refugees.. The children of those Afghan refugees are now settled in Pakistan.
President Trump should understand that now is not the time which was there three decades ago. In that Pakistan was coerced to join the American military onslaught in Afghanistan to annihilate Taliban as well as root out Russian influence in that country. Later Russia again intervened in that war in 2007.
China and Russia, Saudi Arabia and several other countries have negated Trump’ s characterization of Pakistan harboring terrorist. They have eulogized Pakistan and acknowledged that Pakistan’s role and sacrifices in Afghanistan were colossal. Any effort to sideline Pakistan and bring it under pressure and branding it as a state sponsoring terrorism is negation of facts and history. Such an attitude towards Pakistan would boomerang against USA and might result in further chaos in Afghanistan. As already stated This time isolating Pakistan internationally and reigniting war in Afghanistan would not be favorable to the United States.
The uncalled-for anti-Pakistan statement and threat by president Trump perhaps has two motives. One is to detract the American people from his domestic failures and his diminishing image. He is reviving the Bush era adventurism and thus trying to win the support of the pro-war Americans. It is a sordid attempt of finding scape-goats by raising war cries and using tough language against an all-time friendly country Pakistan.
It is also possible that anti- Pakistan rhetoric of Trump is aimed at bolstering and pleasing India which is the irreconcilable foe of Pakistan. It is a known fact that President Trump has Indian business partners and they remain in contact with him. Trump has showered praise and plaudits on India which ostensibly is to belittle Pakistan.
Yet India cannot help USA to wage another war in Afghanistan and prevail. The driving reason is that India doesn’t have direct territorial contacts or routes with Afghanistan like Pakistan or Iran have. As such any alliance or understanding between India and America for war efforts against Taliban, ISIS or ISIL is not going to materialize.
For the first time, the Pakistan government and both the houses of the parliament (Senate and National Assembly) have taken a right and courageous stand in response to Trump’s denunciation of Pakistan and issuing of warnings. They have rejected the insinuation of president Trump and pledged not to be browbeaten by the American president’s false alarm bells.
USA wants to enter Afghanistan again and fight which the American president and defence secretary claim to win and prevail. It should be understood that America cannot succeed in driving Taliban, ISIS and other religious Warriers out of Afghanistan without logistic and other support from Pakistan.
Losing Pakistan’s friendship would be more counterproductive for USA as she would lose a trusted ally and friend which brought victory to America in Afghanistan. In that situation, Pakistan will not allow a hostile America to use her territory in order to enter Afghanistan.
Iran also, for obvious reasons, wouldn’t place her routes and land at the disposal of the American army to enter Afghanistan and restart a war against their perceived enemy. Besides America will have to open its financial coffers once again which might cause an adverse economic backlash in USA.
Let us remember that such threats have been issued by president Trump earlier against North Korea by using the slang of “Fire and Fury” which means bombing North Korean and destroying her missile installations. The retort from North Korean president Kim Jong Un was more sarcastic and defying in which he ignored president Trump’s ultimatum and utterances by describing those as a ‘load of nonsense’. Even thereafter, North Korea tested missile, one of which has the capacity to reach American mainland.. Guam Island being used as a military base by USA is just within the reach of North Korean range of missiles.
All said and done, this statement about Pakistan being a sponsor of terrorism and host to militants could be another stray outpouring of President Trump. He is in the habit of issuing tough and thoughtless ultimatums and statements but later leaves those in lurch. His announcement to exit from the G-20, erecting a wall between America and Mexico and showering fire and fury on North Korea are meaningless and counterproductive in fostering the American goodwill abroad.
President Trump has been at loggerheads with the American press, the immigrants, the minority communities and all those who somehow oppose him politically from the Republican or the Democratic Party. It should be instructive for Trump to be sober, less reactive and instead be diplomatic than being ready to throw punches at friend and foes.
Keeping in view his mercurial temperament, knee jerk reaction, unguarded statements and unpredictable behavior, the Senate majority leader Mitch MacDonnell in a private conversation, has said that he was doubtful if president Trump could retain his presidency.
The writer is a senior journalist, former editor of Diplomatic Times and a former diplomat.