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Trump hardens stance towards Pakistan after Afghan war review

Nearly six months after Donald Trump took office of the US President, his administration appears ready to harden its approach towards Pakistan.

A Reuters report states that a review of 16-year-old war in Afghanistan by Trump administration suggests a shift towards a more assertive approach by the US to address safe terror havens in Pakistan. The news agency, quoting US officials, says expanding US drone strikes, withholding aid to Pakistan and eventually downgrading Pakistan’s status as a major non-NATO ally are some of the potential responses Donald Trump administration is contemplating against the South Asian country. But precise actions are yet to be decided.

Last month, the Trump administration slashed its foreign military financing (FMF) to Pakistan from $255 million to $100 million for the 2018 fiscal. In his maiden annual budget submitted to the US Congress, American President Donald Trump has proposed proposed to convert the US grant to Pakistan – for purchase of military hardware – into loan.

It could be noted that as of now Pakistan is the leading recipient of the US aid. According to a study conducted by the Congressional Research Service, the US has given a whopping $18 billion aid to Pakistan from 2002 to 2015. The country also received $13 billion from the Coalition Support Fund as reimbursements for so called logistical and operational support it provided to the US troops operating in Afghanistan.

But what does Pakistan do with these billions of US aid? It diverts it to train, finance and support terrorist organisations against India, Afghanistan and other South Asian countries.

Terror safe havens in Pakistan have allowed Taliban-linked terrorists to plot deadly strikes in Afghanistan. Moreover, this is an open secret that Pakistan intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has strong ties to dreaded Haqqani network which is responsible for carrying out series of terror strikes in Afghanistan.

The US designated Haqqani network as a terror outfit in 2012. It won’t be wrong to say that Haqqani network, which wants to bleed Afghanistan with a thousand cuts, has emerged as veritable arm of Pakistan’s ISI.

The growing danger to Afghanistan from Pakistan-based terrorists was underscored by a devastating 31 May truck bomb blast that killed more than 90 people in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul. The attack appears to be the handiwork of the Haqqani network.

It could be noted that during George Bush administration in 2004, Pakistan had got the status of a non-NATO ally. The move was seen as a part of US strategy to fight terror outfits like al Qaeda and Taliban.

David Sedney, who served as Obama’s deputy assistant secretary of defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia from 2009 to 2013, was quoted as saying that the attempt by the US to turn Islamabad into a strategic partner was a “disaster.”

“It didn’t affect Pakistan’s behavior one bit. In fact, I would argue it made Pakistan’s behaviour worse,” Sedney said.

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