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US should stop being manipulated by Pakistan: ex-Pentagon official

Washington: The US should stop being manipulated by Pakistan and cease all military and financial aid to the country, a former top Pentagon official has said.

“As the first step, the Trump administration should suspend Pakistan’s non-NATO ally status and cease military aid and assistance payments,” Christopher D Kolenda, a Pentagon senior advisor from 2009-2014, said in an op-ed highlighting the Pakistan policy of duplicity in Afghanistan.

“Let’s stop being manipulated by Pakistan. It’s time for the United States to restore dignity in its relationship with Pakistan,” he said in the opinion piece published in The Hill.

“The United States should be prepared to add more penalties if necessary,” he said.

“These actions will not compel Pakistan to turn against the Afghan Taliban,” he added.

Kolenda is currently an adjunct senior fellow at CNAS and a senior fellow at the Center for Global Policy.

Even under a robust U.S.-led sanctions regime in the 1990s, Pakistan was supporting insurgencies in Kashmir and Afghanistan, while still pursuing their nuclear programme, he noted.

“These actions will, however, stop the mad practice of subsidising Pakistan while it undermines the US interests,” Kolenda asserted.

He said that the US should come to grips with the fact that it cannot accommodate the competing interests of India, Pakistan, Iran, and others in Afghanistan and instead, the US should back an Afghan declaration of regional neutrality in exchange for commitments of non-interference in the war-torn country.

“A regional forum, perhaps managed by the UN, will be needed to monitor and enforce these agreements. This way, no regional actor controls Afghanistan, and Afghan officials are less prone to play regional powers against the one another,” he argued.

The former Pentagon official recommended that America should also consider a “peace dividend” for Pakistan once Afghanistan achieves sustainable peace.

“This could include resumption of aid and assistance and consideration for a civil-nuclear agreement,” Kolenda said.

PTI