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kabul
December 16, 2018
The Kabul Times

Trump’s Pakistan criticisms

US President Donald Trump has defended his administration’s decision to cut off aid to Pakistan, berating the country for not doing a damn thing for US. In an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace that aired on Sunday, Trump pointed to Osama bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan and instability in Afghanistan as proof.
The United States has long complained about Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies playing a double game in the region, protecting some militant groups while taking on others. Pakistan has consistently denied these allegations but also maintained that its top priority is to protect its own strategic interest, which is believed to include keeping relationships with proxy forces that can aid Pakistan in a fight against India and Afghanistan. Pakistanis also are quick to point to America’s own unholy alliances, including its support for the Taliban’s forebears in Afghanistan.
“Osama lived in Pakistan. We’re supporting Pakistan. We’re giving them $1.3 billion a year, which we don’t give them anymore by the way. I ended it because they don’t do anything for us, they don’t do a damn thing for us,” Trump told Fox News.
Since 2001, posing as an indispensable ally in the war against terrorism, Pakistan was benefitting from a lavish US military and development aid, while continuing to provide a safe haven for the Taliban and the Haqqani network. The two groups have been responsible for tens of thousands of Afghan casualties and more than 3,500 US military and civilian fatalities.
In the political arena too, Pakistan had skillfully presented itself as the key to peace in Afghanistan and in the war against international terrorism, while threatening the Afghanistan security and the US interests that turning away from Pakistan would result in “nuclear terrorism”
Why does Pakistan continue to sponsor militant groups in the face of considerable U.S. pressure to stop? This question has plagued U.S.-Pakistan relations for decades. US President Trump has rebuked Pakistan, inflaming an already tense relationship when he tweeted about decades of U.S. aid to Pakistan with “nothing but lies & deceit” in turn. The Trump administration subsequently reduced security and military aid to Pakistan, campaigned to add Pakistan to an intergovernmental watchlist for terrorism financing, and imposed sanctions on seven Pakistani firms involved in prohibited nuclear activities.
Unfortunately, these policies are unlikely to be effective in changing Pakistan’s behavior. Pakistan’s military establishment and intelligence agencies consider militant sponsorship an important mechanism for maintaining Pakistan’s sovereignty and national identity. Some Pakistan’s Civilian institutions, too, have evolved to facilitate militant sponsorship by routinely legitimizing expansive executive powers, limiting judicial oversight, and violating civil liberties in the name of the national interest. Pakistan’s civil and military institutions, therefore, are much more closely aligned on matters of state sponsorship of militant groups than most U.S. policymakers and academicians think, and therefore less susceptible to outside pressure.
Pakistan has a long history of militant sponsorship. The military establishment has played a central role in Pakistan’s use of militant groups as proxies, but contrary to longstanding presumptions in Washington, Pakistan’s civilian establishment by no means serves as a check against these policies.
Therefore, time is ripe for consensus among the Afghan leaders and their American counterparts in dealing with Pakistan by giving it a lesson to never think of lies and deceit in the future. Cutting off the financial support to Pakistan and putting pressures, including sanctions as well as acknowledging historic rights of Afghanistan should be a part of counter-narrative.