05 Jan 2018/Friday.
Amidst US Presidential tweet and threat of suspension of military aid as part of Coalition Support Fund(CSF) Pakistan has categorically dismissed the US allegations. Since the start of the War in Afghanistan, the United States has pumped billions of dollars via the Coalition Support Fund which is reimbursement to Pakistan for expenses already incurred and compensation for facilities made available to the coalition forces such as the Shamsi Airfield and Dalbandin air bases. Realising the futility of spending so much money for an endless war, the US has now started tightening its purse. Military aid has bee put off and Pakistan has been put on Special Watch List by US Administration for severe violations of religious freedom, making it the only country to be put under newly -formed list. Visas to Pak nationals have been curtailed. There are indications that more sanctions will come if Pakistan does not mend its ways.
In spite of all the negatives why is Pakistan so adamant?
Three major countries China, Russia and Turkey has appreciated Pakistan’s role and sacrifices in combating terror. Few other small countries have also sided with Pakistan and voiced their support in different forums. That makes Pakistan internationally less isolated on issue of War on Terror. Pakistan is absolutely sure that without its support the US cannot sustain, leave aside win Afghan war, as the entire logistic support chain to US Forces goes through Pakistan’s soil. The same is very evident from Pak Foreign Minister Khwaja Asif’s statement made in the aftermath of Trump’s tweet:
Any denial of these facilities will severely impact US war effort. Pak authorities maintain that since CSF is only meant for already incurred expenditure it will not make much difference as Pakistan’s economy is now capable of sustaining this burden. In any case the quantum of aid has come down significantly over past few years. This has emboldened Pakistan to respond more arrogantly.
Responding to US threat of unilateral action against Pakistan, the DG ISPR made a statement:
Denial of US support will catapult Pakistan completely into Chinese Camp. The acceptance of Yuan as currency for trade with China has struck a serious blow to the reputation of being an international currency. There are reports that China is making a secret military base in Gwadar though Pakistan has denied it. China-Pak military collaboration is increasing day by day and induction of Chinese and Russian equipment in Pakistan’s military makes it less dependent on the US. China has already proposed to Pakistan’s government to hand over the responsibility of its ambitious CPEC project to Pakistan Army. All these developments are pointing towards a deepening economic and military dependence Pakistan on China leading to its reduced dependence on US- and this has emboldened Pakistan to harden its stand.
The key issue behind all these spats is the policy of Good and Bad Terrorist followed by Pakistan. The US wants credible action against Haqqani Network and Afghan Taliban, but Pakistan is reluctant as it considers these terror groups as good terrorists and therefore strategic assets.
The Haqqani Network, based in Pakistan, is responsible for several deadly attacks on US and its interests in Afghanistan. The same terrorist organisation is also responsible for strikes on Indian interests in Afghanistan which also includes the high-profile attack in 2008 on the Indian mission in Kabul that claimed 58 lives. Pakistan considers this group as Bad against the US but Good against India. Its obsession with India does not allow it to think rationally and coherently and act against as desired by the US. This is the main cause of Pakistan’s reluctance to act against the terror groups.