Washington : Pakistan is likely to face an existential crisis as a nation post its fallout with the United States over its ineffective counter-terrorism policies.
Expressing this view in an article for the American Interest, Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former envoy to Washington said, “The withdrawal of American subsidies for Pakistan’s pursuit of regional pre-eminence at the cost of its people is not just a wise course for Washington.”
Endorsing Washington’s decision to warn Pakistan of an aid cut-off, Ambassador Haqqani further said, “It could also spark the serious and long overdue debate Pakistan needs at home about its prospects as a nation. Pakistan has the right to define its national interest as its leaders see fit, but the United States does not need to subsidize Pakistan’s pursuit of policies that do not advance American objectives.”
Referring to U.S. President Donald Trump’s New Year’s Day tweet, Haqqani said Trump’s language was undeniably, and undiplomatically harsh.
“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools,” Trump tweeted. “They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”
He further emphasised that President Trump’s tweet was the result of frustration of several years due to the state of U.S.-Pakistan relations.
“Quibbles about his choice of words notwithstanding, the President’s tweet reflected dissatisfaction with the state of U.S.-Pakistan relations that dates back several decades,” he said.
“Indeed, his assertion that Pakistan is an unreliable ally is a historically grounded one, acknowledged even by those who insist that the United States has no alternative but to maintain an alliance with Pakistan,” he added.
Explaining the basis of being an ally with another country, the former Pakistan diplomat said, “In Pakistan’s case, the United States signed up an ally whose principal enemy-India-was not America’s, and whose definition of its own interests has seldom converged with Washington’s.”
Haqqani further mentioned that Pakistan was quite useful for the United States during the 1950s and 1960s, served as the staging ground for jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan during the 1980s, and has provided some intelligence and convenient supply routes for U.S. troops since 9/11.
“In return, the Pakistanis have received economic and military assistance. But transactional arrangements are never a substitute for shared interests and goals,” he further mentioned.
However, Haqqani emphasised that transactional arrangements are the only possible foundation of an American relationship with Pakistan.
“For all practical purposes, Pakistan and the United States are not allies, and the two countries need to explore ways to structure a non-allied relationship. The United States should be unambiguous in defining its interests and then acting on them, just as Islamabad has done for years,” he stated.
“A non-allied relationship need not be an adversarial one, though it would not preclude actions normally reserved for adversaries, such as targeted sanctions or military operations. It would involve cooperation where possible and a pre-determined quid pro quo. The United States would provide assistance on a conditional basis and pay for specific services while being prepared to act unilaterally and without the deference normally due to allies,” he added.
The former diplomat warns that those voicing fears that walking away from Pakistan would result in it embracing China or acting against American interests must acknowledge that Pakistan is already as close to China.
“China has tried to reassure Pakistan after President Trump’s recent tweet by saying it knows of Pakistan’s suffering due to terrorism. The fact that it did not go further indicates its own concerns about Pakistan’s support and tolerance of jihadi groups, some of whom have also targeted China’s Muslims for recruitment,” Haqqani said.
“Instead of rejecting the Trump Administration’s new approach over partisan considerations or personal dislike for the President, Americans must recognize the opportunity to break out of a situation that has vexed policymakers for decades,” he concluded. (ANI)