Saturday, 21 July, 2018

US 'Needs Pakistan, Won't Fully Cut Off Assistance' - Security Analyst

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Glenn Montgomery | 09 January, 2018, 01:03

During an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Asif said that Pakistan had suspended its alliance with United States, adding that their behaviour was unbecoming of an ally.

"This was expected, and Pakistan was preparing for that", the analyst told Radio Sputnik, referring to the State Department's announcement earlier this week that Washington would no longer transfer certain military equipment and security-related financial assistance to the Pakistani armed forces.

"After U.S. President Donald Trump used Twitter to slam Pakistan for harbouring terrorists, the U.S. State Department said on Thursday that it would suspend security assistance to Pakistan until the country takes decisive action against the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network", it said quoting Reuters. It's a lesson the USA government has learned the hard way in Pakistan.

Alliance forces rely on Pakistani roads to haul supplies to landlocked Afghanistan. There are 20,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan. "They need all kinds of supplies, and they use the Pakistani land route, and also the air route [to deliver them]".

"So I expect there will be more talks".

The US President Donald Trump last week criticized Pakistan in strong words for harboring the terrorist groups despite receiving billions in aid to support the counter-terrorism efforts in Afghanistan. The abrupt move met with an indignant response from Islamabad, which says it is being scapegoated, and has faced thousands of casualties and more than $120 billion in costs in the war on terror.

United States officials claim that despite Pakistan's public bluster, Islamabad could take a more conciliatory position. "This kind of running your foreign policy through the media can not achieve much, and is going to alienate more and more allies", he suggested.

But Indian officials are aware that while Trump's bombastic outburst gives the impression of a dramatic first-time tectonic shift in policy, American military aid has been scaled back from Pakistan several times in the past, including most recently during the Obama years.

The rhetoric has raised hackles in Islamabad and fears the row could undermine Pakistan's support for USA operations in Afghanistan. At a background briefing in Washington on January 4, state department officials also stressed that the aid cut was reversible "if they undertake to take the measures that we've asked of them".

"That is the way it has been portrayed, but I think there will be some effect, [even if] not much".

"So we were hoping that this is an incentive that they don't want to see this relationship deteriorate any further and that they're going to commit to working with us to try to find a way to put it on a more solid footing", he added.

Meanwhile, Asif said that the process of continuation of US-Pakistan relations was at great risk, especially after President Trump warned Islamabad to "do more" against terrorists who the US alleged were holed up in Pakistan.

U.S. officials admit that Pakistan could make life hard for Washington by closing land routes that are vital to supply United States troops in Afghanistan.

Asked whether there was any truth in Washington's claims that Islamabad hasn't done enough to fight terror, Yusufzai said that the dispute is really about Pakistan's lack of urgency in fighting the militants, not their lack of assistance as such. The US, he noted, wants "action against the Haqqani network".

'I'm not concerned, ' the defense secretary tells reporters after the White House announced an intention to suspend military aid to Islamabad.

Furthermore, one of the explanations Islamabad has been able to fall back on is the 2.7 million Afghan refugees living in Pakistan for almost four decades now, and among whom terror groups such as al-Qaeda and Haqqani can easily hide and operate.

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