Published Date: Jan 9, 2018
Pakistan should give a calculated response to Trump, says PPP’s Babar
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Farhatullah Babar on Monday said that US President Donald Trump may be “mad but there is a method to his madness” and Pakistan should give a calculated, measured and methodical response to him.
Speaking at a seminar on Pak-US relations organized by a local NGO, Babar reminded that Trump’s New Year tweet was preceded by announcement of new rules of engagement, of ‘unilateral action’ and resumption of drone strikes. The suspension of all security assistance on Jan 5 was, therefore, no surprise, he said.
Pakistan’s response of alternately waving olive branch and brandishing threats is not policy but dithering.
The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement expressing readiness to look into the possibility of miscreants’ presence and the seizing of assets of affiliated charities of militant organizations may have been positive but it has not been backed by concrete policy measures. The hurriedly called meeting of National Command Authority (NCA) after nearly two years to reaffirm yet again “full spectrum nuclear deterrence” just on the eve of US Vice President Pence’s visit to Kabul on December 22 seemed like brandishing nuclear weapons, he said and termed it unwise.
The tendency to overplay the cards of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and thoughtless threats to send back Afghan refugees or ‘weapon of mass migration’ should be eschewed.
Aid suspension is not a big issue and it was deja vu, he said, adding, “The steep decline in relations is the issue.”
“The $33 billion over a period of 15 years touted by Trump amounts to no more than five months of our national budget. Aid was suspended after the 1965 war with India. Carter suspended all aid in 1979 for nuclear enrichment and aid was substantially cut in 1990 under Pressler Amendment,” he said.
In 1993 the USAID offices in Pakistan were closed for nearly 8 years and after 1998 nuclear tests, the US aid was totally stopped, he further said.
The US tilt towards India had begun since March 2000 when Clinton spent five days in India and just five hours in Pakistan during which he played “Holi” in India but in Pakistan, warned “terrorism would eventually destroy Pakistan from within.”
Clinton and not Trump forged this new relationship built upon by subsequent US administrations, he said
Total rupture with the US will make Pakistan’s reliance on China perilously one sided, he warned.
About contradictions, he said, “On one hand we deny existence of sanctuaries and on the other we say that we do not want to bring Afghan war into Pakistan. If the Afghan Taliban are not in Pakistan, how the fight against them will enter Pakistan?”
He added, “On one hand we ask for addresses of the Afghan Taliban in Pakistan and on the other we do not investigate as to who gave CNIC/ passport to Mullah Mansoor Akhtar.”
Sartaj Aziz had publicly admitted that some Taliban leaders were not only living in Pakistan but had also been extended some facilities, he said.
He called for increasing the civilian input in policy formulation and lamented when sometime back defence minister talked of joint operation against militants, it was promptly rebuffed by the ISPR.
He said that the recent Senate policy guidelines also stressed the need for a verifiable mechanism to address mutual allegations of cross-border terrorism. “We also need to make progress in the Mumbai attack case as well as investigations in the attack on Pathankot airbase last year,” he added. BRICS declaration and Ashraf Ghani’s decision to ban Pakistani trucks should have served as an eye-opener, he said. After suspending security assistance, he foresaw travel curbs if the headlong plunge in relations continued.