The old unrealistic policy will have to be changed
The government is in the process of hammering out a strategy in response to President Trump’s South Asia policy. National Security Committee has met twice, important allies and friendly countries are also being consulted. After holding discussions in Beijing, Tehran and Ankara FM Khawaja Asif would hold consultations with Sergey Lavrov on the side-lines of UNGA meeting next week. Asif is scheduled to hold talks with Secretary Tillerson also.
Meanwhile the message to the US from Pakistan is that Trump should look before he leaps. PM Khaqan Abbasi has reminded the US President that any punitive action against Pakistan would degrade the ongoing Pak-US joint fight against terror. Reduction in funds and military assistance or sanctions against Pakistani military and intelligence officials or any other unfriendly action will be counterproductive and harm the fight by the US and Pakistan against the Al-Qaida, IS, Afghan Taliban or TTP.
The US president has talked about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organisations, the Taliban and other groups ‘that pose a threat to the region and beyond’. Trump believes cooperation by Pakistan has only produced mixed results over the years and his administration will not provide a blank check to Pakistan.
Among the groups that especially worry the US are Haqqani network, LeT which operates under a new name as JuD and JeM. Hafiz Saeed is currently under detention and this is reportedly also the case with JeM Chief Masud Azhar. Through Xiamen resolution passed after the BRICs summit China too has publicly reminded Pakistan that the time has come for it to put an end to its relationships with non-state actors. So far the government has been disinclined to take on these groups headlong for, among other considerations, fear of destabilisation of Punjab. But this cannot go on very long. Pakistan cannot ignore both the US and China. What is more it would need US support when it seeks another possible bailout from the IMF. It is time Islamabad dealt firmly with all terrorist networks without making any exception.