03 Jan 18/Wednesday.
Military aid to Islamabad was cut after Trump’ New Year tweet, accusing Pakistan of being a liar and a deceitful Nation. The tweet had come in the aftermath of an increasingly terse blow hot- blow cold war of words between Washington and Islamabad since Trump announced his administration’s latest national security strategy.
The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2018
The US president after closing the doors have however kept the window of reconciliation open by reminding Pakistan of its ‘obligation’ to help America “because it receives massive payments” from Washington every year.
“We have made clear to Pakistan that while we desire continued partnership, we must see decisive action against terrorist groups operating on their territory. And we make massive payments every year to Pakistan. They have to help,” the US president had said.
A Pentagon report to the US Congress had said Washington would also take ‘unilateral steps’ in areas of divergence with Pakistan while expanding cooperation between the two countries where their interests converge.
Subsequently, US Vice President Mike Pence had, in a surprise visit to Afghanistan’s Bagram airbase on Dec 22, warned that Trump has “put Pakistan on notice” in what was the harshest US warning to Islamabad since the beginning of the Afghan war over 16 years ago.
Putting all speculations to rest, the White House has now confirmed suspending $255 million of military aid to Pakistan, a move seen as the first step to implementing Trump’s pledge to tighten economic restrictions on Pakistan. A bitter Pakistan has cried foul and its iron brother has once again jumped for its rescue by supporting Pakistan’s fight against terror.
Does India gain from worsening US-Pak relations?
While the cut in military aid will benefit India directly as it has accused Pakistan of using military aid against it; the worsened relations will force Pakistan to be totally dependent on China. Perhaps China also wants it to happen and Chinese reactions to US statements also point in this direction. However, till now China has only supported Pakistan’s role against fighting terror through statements and not gone beyond it by providing alternative to US military aid, if it really means what it preaches. Whether China comes forward to fill the vacuum created by denial of military aid by the US, will certainly be an interesting event to watch.
China certainly does not want US presence in Afghanistan as it affects China’s ambitious OBOR. Militarization of OBOR owing to threat from terrorists at some point of time in future will put both the countries face to face. As of now, it appears to be in the interest of China to strengthen Pakistan’s fight against bad terror(Pakistan Taliban) while supporting good terror (Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network) to continuously engage the US in Afghanistan. The situation in Afghanistan, therefore, is unlikely to be better as per US liking, owing to China’s long term interests in the theatre.