New Delhi: Two American security experts have called on the Donald Trump administration to seriously consider fresh options in dealing with a terrorist supporting and irresponsible nuclear weapons state like Pakistan.
In an article appearing in The National Interest, a website dealing with security-related issues, Congressman Ted Poe, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade and James Clad former US deputy assistant secretary of defence for Asia in the George W. Bush administration said, “The United States has acquiesced in a toxic relationship with Pakistan, putting up with this nominal ally whose military and security leaders play a lethal double game.”
Most dangerously, the “game,” if one can call it that, involves head-long nuclear-weapons production and exporting Islamist terrorism”, they said.
“Something must change in our dealings with a terrorist-supporting, irresponsible nuclear-weapons state, and it must change soon. Acquiescing in the current trends is not an option,” they added.
Maintaining that successive Pakistani military leaders have held their country’s civilian governments on a tight leash, both Poe and Clad said, “The Pakistani military plays to its various constituencies in Washington very well, especially defence corporations, some residual voices in the intelligence community and parts of the foreign policy establishment for whom “maintaining access” in Islamabad edges out realism.”
Both Poe and Clad said that changing the United States’ reactive accommodating stance with respect to Pakistan won’t come quickly, and added that it must change irrespective of trends in US-India relations, which have steadily come to be on a sounder footing since the time of the George W Bush administration.
“There’s a tendency to think of Pakistan as part of a troubling duality, with India and Pakistan in a death spiral. That’s out of date and we have our issues with India too,” they said.
They described Pakistan as a quasi-adversary, receiving hundreds of billions (of dollars) through the years in direct and indirect US support, adding that it seemed like “a strange hostage-like arrangement in which we pay Islamabad to do what it should be doing anyway to protect its own domestic security and buttress Afghan stability.”
Suggesting that over the years, the broad strategic balance has shifted against Pakistan which, unlike its neighbour to the east (India), fails to invest in human capital, they said, “It’s time that the United States sets, unilaterally, the limits of its indulgence.”
They suggested three ways for Washington to finally put this toxic relationship with Islamabad behind them:
• Don’t let the next crisis in South or Southwest Asia deflect our focus.
• Don’t rush to shore up Pakistan’s balance of payments via the IMF or other intermediaries, as we’ve done in the past.
• Let China pay that, if the Pakistanis wish to mortgage their future in that way. (China’s “one belt, one road” infrastructure plans for Pakistan are running into big problems).