President Trump Expresses Trust in Pakistan
On February 22 instant while speaking at a White House event on trade negotiations with China, president Trump said that US has developed a "much better relationship recently with Pakistan and added that Washington may set up some meetings with Islamabad”. President Trump noted that relations have improved over the "last short period of time". The US envoys believe that Pakistan has an important role to play in Afghan peace talks. Taliban representatives are due to meet US special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar on Feb 25.
At the same time, president Trump expressed his deep concern over the escalating tension between India and Pakistan: the two nuclear-armed neighbors. He apprehends that the Pulwama (a city in Indian held part of Kashmir valley) attack on an Indian convoy of the Indian soldiers could spark military confrontation between the two countries. He pointed out that “It's very dangerous situation between India and Pakistan," adding that “US wants both the countries to defuse the tensions”.
President Trump’s latest pro-Pakistan statement looks like a kind of welcome metamorphosis and indeed a watershed positive transformation in the thus far negative outlook of the American president towards Pakistan. Ever-since taking over the presidency of the United States on January 20, 2017, Trump has demonstrated, all along, an anti-Pakistan attitude and demeanor.
The United States today engages in extensive economic, social, and scientific assistance as well as vital military relations with Pakistan. Pakistan continues to occupy a strategic position for promotion of the United States' interests in Central and South Asia. The United States is the second-largest supplier of military equipment to Pakistan after China. It is one of Pakistan's largest donors of foreign assistance.
On January 28, 2019, the U.S. government announced that negotiators from the US and Taliban have agreed in principle on key issues. The U.S. troops would leave Afghanistan in return to Taliban’s’ promise that Afghan territory will not be used by terrorists.
The Afghan war started on 7 October 2001 and continued for 17 years, four months and three days plunging that beautiful and historical land in unremitting disorder and fighting for almost two decades
Tens of thousands of people have been killed in that war. Millions uprooted Afghanis moved to neighboring Pakistan, Iran and to other countries as refugees. In that one of the longest wars in recent history, 4,000 ISAF soldiers and civilian contractors, over 62,000 Afghan national security forces and over 31,000 civilians and an unknown number of Taliban were killed. The United States and her allies should ponder as to why, despite 140000 NATO troops plus 250,000 Afghan troops & reportedly $1 trillion spent on war in Afghanistan, the Taliban today are stronger than before.
After his taking over the presidency of the United States two years ago, this is the first statement pro-Pakistan statement of President Trump. Prior to this, he has been blaming Pakistan for doing nothing with regard to the capturing of Osama Bin laden or supporting in the Afghan war despite being the recipient of the American financial aid. His views have been very venomous again Pakistan thus far.
Trump's most recent anti Pakistan tweet came on November 19, last year, when he alleged that Pakistan "would take our money and do nothing for us. “We no longer pay Pakistan the $billions because they would take our money and do nothing for us, Bin Laden being a prime example, Afghanistan being another. They were just one of many countries that take from the United States without giving anything in return. That’s ENDING!", the US president tweeted.
In another anti Pakistan outpouring he tweeted that “Of course we should have captured Osama Bin Laden long before we did. I pointed him out in my book just BEFORE the attack on the World Trade Center. President Clinton famously missed his shot. We paid Pakistan Billions of Dollars & they never told us he was living there. Fools!”
But better sense has started prevailing upon the American leadership and it is now being realized and accepted that Pakistan has been a trusted ally of USA as long as America was involved in Afghnistan war.
In the hindsight, it should be noted that the United States initiated the Afghan war following the September 11 2001 attacks in U.S. President George W. Bush blamed Osama bin Laden who was living or hiding in Afghanistan. The aims were destruction of al-Qaeda and Taliban militant’ training camps in Afghanistan. President Bush demanded that the Taliban hand over bin Laden and expel al-Qaeda. Osama Bin Laden had already been wanted by the U.S. since 1998.
Pakistan has remained a close and most dependable ally as long the American and ISAF forces were fighting against the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Afghan war started on 7 October 2001 and continued for 17 years, four months and three days.140000 NATO troops plus 250,000 Afghan troops fought against Taliban led by Osama bin Laden and other religious leaders. A hefty amount of $1 trillion were spent on war in Afghanistan.
The latest awareness of president Trump particularly and other political stalwarts has come about for two reasons. One is the realization of Pakistan’s importance for having a clout and goodwill and enormous influence among the Islamic countries particularly the Middle Eastern states with Saudi Arabia in the lead. The recent visit of crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz-Al-Saud to Pakistan evolved a complete understating and affinity between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan on the world issues. It served as a milestone and a testimony to the good will that Pakistan enjoys with that leading Arabian state.
The second factor that reinforces and revives Pakistan’s importance in United States specifically and the rest of the world generally, is the glaring fact that Pakistan provides both logistic and political routes to enter Afghnistan that USA and the allies might be needing to reinforce goodwill and bilateral relationship with the leadership in Afghnistan. The restoration of peace in Afghnistan and fraternity generated from that would enable the former western hostile powers to rebuild Afghnistan and restore a modicum of good governance, peace and development.
It’s time for United States and other western countries to plan rebuilding the war-torn Afghnistan and pave way for the Afghan refugees to return to their motherland after almost 18 years. The peace in Afghnistan might help America to proceed farther in the Central Asian states for promotion of social, trade and commercial links.
Hopefully the Afghan terrain would not be used for isolating Iran or removing her religious leadership. Iran is a close door neighbor country of both Pakistan and Afghanistan and as such she needs peace, advancement and openness like other states in the region.
The writer is a senior journalist, former editor of Diplomatic Times and a former diplomat.
This and other articles by the writer can also be read at his blog www.uprightopinion.com