President Donald Trump is the third American president to affirm that victory is at hand in the Afghanistan war to gain wide support of the American public. This 16-year old war has seen, in president Trump’s words, military, economic and diplomatic efforts used generously.
President Trump in his recent public address from Fort Myer, military base in Arlington delineated his plans regarding Afghan war, convincing us that he has looked at the situation from all conceivable angles. He iterated that the shift from a timeline-based strategy to condition-based one would bring about a better yield. He also promised that peace was within reach and, admitted that for that to happen the number of American soldiers on the Afghan soil would have to increase.
How the American public views this avowal may become visible as approximately 4,000 soldiers embark. We still remember that increasing pressures in the past caused the former president, Barak Obama, to bring American sons back on the soil.
At home in Pakistan however, diplomatic temperatures rise and the reservations are deafening.
The fact of the matter is that United States president’s new strategy on Afghanistan more than questions Pakistan’s commitment to the war on terror. It accuses Pakistan of backing and harbouring extremist segments ailing Afghanistan and that too after receiving ‘billions and billions’ of dollars from the U. S. Further, in his address, president Trump raised the heat by threatening dire consequences for Pakistan.
While the government spokesperson has dubbed the American accusation a fallacy, in and around the diplomatic circles, the U.S. president’s address has caused considerable alarm. The fact that President trump had a speech prepared, to be read over a teleprompter, proves that all that was said was significantly thought through and not a result of caprice. Luckily China first and later Russia has offered support to Pakistan providing a breather from our international isolation.
President Trump’s comparison between India and Pakistan didn’t sit well with Pakistanis who have always seen U.S. as their natural ally. Moreover the way president Trump lumped South Asia and Afghanistan together is seen as a mistake. Political analysts cite that ground realities of Afghanistan are far different than those of Pakistan and India. It is also feared that U.S. is trying to establish Indian hegemony in the region, which will not be acceptable to Pakistan.
Political leaders are also bracing for the tightening of the economic leash and regarding it, ‘self respect.’ Some analysts believe that U.S will always needs Pakistan in the region but the pressure is mounting to align her to the American, ‘do more’ policy. They accuse U.S. for trying to avoid criticism by blaming Pakistan for its ineptitude. It is true that despite the military and reconstruction expenditure in Afghanistan, news reports reveal of poor infrastructure in the country where 3 in 5 Afghani children are still out of school.
Finally, it seems that until the blueprints of an Afghanistan strategy manifest and plays out, not much can be said about the chances of peace inside our war-torn neighbour. Pakistan needs to engage United States in meaningful deliberations to ensure that the harshness dissipates. It is also important for U.S. to understand that the space is shrinking in Pakistan for terrorist extremists.