On Monday, US President Donald Trump had laid out his new strategy regarding Afghanistan and had urged India to contribute more in the region while acknowledging its important contribution in stabilising Afghanistan. Trump while calling India a key security and economic partner said that:
We appreciate India’s important contributions to stability in Afghanistan, but India makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States, and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development
In the same speech, Trump looked like taking Pakistan to task by stating that while America had been giving Pakistan ‘billions and billions of dollars’, it was returning the favour by housing the very terrorists the US was fighting. A day after Trump’s speech, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned Pakistan that its support for the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network would have consequences.
Now it seems that Pakistan is rattled by Trump’s request for India’s help in Afghanistan and its officials have warned that this approach would risk jolting their already shaky relationship. As part of their defence, the Pakistan officials have incredulously alleged that Indian influence was the prime reason for the instability and insecurity in Afghanistan. They further alleged that a hostile political regime in Kabul, supported by India was funding militants who in-turn launched attacks in Pakistan.
An opposition Senator in Pakistan claimed that the speech would isolate Washington’s friends in Islamabad. Some foreign policy analysts in Pakistan made lofted allegations that the speech of Trump had confirmed the worst fears of Pakistan’s Generals, that America was in cahoots with India against Pakistan. Pakistan though decided not to provide any official response to Trump’s speech but its foreign minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif is scheduled to leave for the US in the near future for talks with the American officials.
This isn’t the only time the US administration has signalled its intent to try and steer off Pakistan from the wrong track. In May Donald Trump has proposed to convert the US grant to Pakistan, for the purchase of military hardware, into a loan. Pakistan was somewhat singled out in this regard as the aid was to continue normally for countries like Egypt and Israel. Also in July the US house of Representatives brought in amendments to make sure that Pakistan would received their defence aid only if it showed sufficient progress in fighting terrorism.