Donald Trump’s reprisal against Pakistan only confirms that Imran Khan has succeeded to a depleted inheritance. The misuse of US assistance ~ a $ 300 million tranche ~ earmarked for action against terrorists, predates the change of guard in Islamabad.
Was it really necessary for the White House and the Pentagon to wait for the change before effecting the strike? The US cavil is testament to the pussyfooting indulged in by Mr Khan’s predecessors, and most importantly by the GHQ in Rawalpindi.
No less crucially, the Pentagon announcement comes on the eve of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Pakistan and India this week. The prologue to the diplomatic grandstanding could scarcely have been more embarrassing for the new Prime Minister.
By any reckoning, the Trump administration has emitted a tough signal to a dodgy ally, one that had no qualms in accepting US assistance while it tacitly condoned the depredations of terrorists.
Last weekend’s fiscal reprisal has served to expose the double standard of the Pakistan establishment which quite palpably has not complied with the objectives of America’s geopolitics in the region. Added to the earlier withdrawal of $500 million in Coalition Support Funds to Pakistan, the total loss suffered by Islamabad is $ 800 million.
President Trump in a tweet on New Year’s day had said that the US “has foolishly given Pakistan more than $ 33 billion in aid over the past 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies and deceit, thinking of our leaders as bluffs. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan”. Considering Mr Khan’s inbuilt aversion towards the US, there is a certain logical force in the Pentagon’s announcement.
President Trump’s South Asia strategy envisages peace in Afghanistan with India’s help, and buttressing the US strategic partnership with India. The $300-million assistance has been scrapped in the absence of Islamabad’s decisive action in support of the South Asia strategy.
Pakistan’s seemingly calculated failure to abide by that calibrated praxis, specifically America’s South Asia policy, has now led to the cancellation of the aid, indeed an action that has been announced at the threshold of Imran Khan’s administration.
Considering the complexities of the situation, it is open to question whether there will be a dramatic change in policy to the west of the Radcliffe Line. Indeed, the US has signalled harsher steps if Pakistan doesn’t fall in line, pre-eminently the choking of financial aid to Islamabad from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
In the net, the Trump administration has set the terms of engagement, and Pakistan now has its back to the wall. More accurately, America has struck when Pakistan is in a direly vulnerable economic position. The pitch is treacherous, to summon the terminology of cricket.