31 Aug 2017/Thursday
Trump’s speech has evoked a rare sentiment of Nationalism in Pakistan. In a unique show of solidarity, the National Assembly on Wednesday passed a resolution rejecting the “hostile and threatening” statements made by US President Donald J. Trump and Gen John W. Nicholson — the top US commander in Afghanistan.
The resolution highlighted deep anguish over Trump’s speech and categorically rejected it as “unacceptable targeting of Pakistan”. The resolution further rejected Trump’s claim that billions of dollars in aid have been spent on Pakistan, stating that Pakistan’s economy has suffered a loss of more than $123 billion and the aid was just peanuts. The resolution also denounced the “disregard of the immense sacrifices” made by Pakistan in the war on terror.
Gen Nicolson’s claims regarding the existence of the Taliban Shura in Peshawar and Quetta were also summarily rejected.
Is that an end to Pak US Ties?
Ties between the two onetime allies are unravelling very quickly, spiralling south towards a nadir never seen before. The country’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif was quoted as telling lawmakers that Pakistan had suspended talks and bilateral visits with the United States as a mark of protest over the recent ‘anti-Pakistan diatribe’ by US President Donald Trump.
Earlier Pakistan had angrily rejected the proposed visit of two senior US officials to Islamabad to sort out differences after the Trump administration recognized India’s stakes in Afghanistan and virtually called Pakistan a terrorist state.
Pakistan also cancelled a scheduled trip to Washington DC of its new foreign minister at the invitation of the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to signal its fury.
US authorities also slapped a $630 million penalty on Pakistan’s leading bank Habib Bank Limited for non-compliance with US anti-money laundering laws, forcing it to shut down its US operations.
Hardening US Attitude to Unrelenting Pakistan may create one more North Korea
While hardliners in Islamabad are seeking to pressure US with threats of shutting down American supply routes to landlocked Afghanistan, but for the first time, there are hardliners in Washington also who want the Trump administration to further tighten the screws and force Pakistan to renounce the use of terrorism and roll up terror groups. Among the steps proposed: Shut down the aid spigot not just from Washington but also from multilateral agencies and western allies, and deny US visas, visits, and access to Pakistani leaders, generals, and officials, and other elites who support or rationalize terrorism.
To counter this Pakistan is slowly moving towards China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other comfort partners to try and make up for the downslide in US ties. However, none of them is likely to put any money in Pakistan’s mouth, the way the United States did, amounting up to some $30 billion for its help in the so-called war on terror. Policy makers in Pakistan hope that this move may compel US to atleast disburse the withheld aid.
Another approach which might be a distant idea at the moment is to propagate a theory that, any hardening of stance by both erstwhile allies and their partners, will lead to a total isolation of Pakistan and may turn it into North Korea like state; one more puppet of China located at a geo-strategically very important place on earth. This thought is likely to prevent further down slide in already strained relations between the two countries.