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APD Review | Why Donald Trump is opening fire on Pakistan?

Top News2018-01-10

By APD writer Wu Jian Translated by Shi Xiaomeng At the beginning of 2018, the United States ripped into Pakistan, its former counter-terrorism ally. On Jan. 1, U.S. President Donald Trump wrote in his first tweet of the new year that “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 accused Pakistan of giving safe haven to terrorists. “No more!” the U.S. president twitted. One day later, the White House said it will announce specific actions against Pakistan “in the next 24 to 48 hours.” And on Jan. 4, the United States said it would withhold its military aid to Pakistan. During his speech focused on U.S. military engagement in Afghanistan in August last year, Trump has said the United States can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe haven for terrorist organizations. And in September, the United States suspended a 255 million-U.S.-dollar military aid to Pakistan. But it is still quite surprising to see a series of tough actions taken by the United States against Pakistan at the outset of 2018. One can say that Trump’s attitude towards Pakistan has been driven by the first meeting held among foreign ministers of China, Pakistan and Afghanistan as well as the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan. It is also a U.S. move to bring India to its side. On Dec. 26, 2017, the first China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue was held in Beijing. The three countries agreed to list strategic communication, pragmatic cooperation and security dialogue as three priorities. The also agreed to discuss ways to extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan. China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue Ever since the war in Afghanistan broke out, the United States has been playing a leading role in Afghanistan’s political process and the country’s political reconciliation process. In the U.S. view, China’s action this time has undoubtedly moved the cheese of the United States in Afghanistan. It fears that the U.S. influence over Afghanistan would be weakened. Afghanistan, known as “heart of Asia,” is a juncture connecting Central Asia, Southern Asia, Eastern Asia and the Middle East. It also neighbors two major countries— China and Russia. Besides, Afghanistan is a key area breeding global terrorist activities. Therefore, Afghanistan is of significant geo-strategic value as well as anti-terror value for the United States. It has also become a bridgehead to pin down and deter China and Russia. However, viewing from political or military perspective, it is not in the interest of the United States to ease the tense relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan or to extend the CPEC to Afghanistan. The United States intends to disturb and undermine the cooperation mechanism among China, Afghanistan and Pakistan by provoking the U.S. relations with Pakistan. To this end, the United States would be very likely to exert pressure on the pro-U.S. regime of Afghanistan as well. Trump’s repeated criticism on Pakistan’s ineffective fighting against terrorism is due to the deterioration of Afghanistan’s security situation. In 2016, the Taliban has controlled or exerted influence over 171 of the 400 communities in Afghanistan, while the range of control of the Afghan government has decreased from 72% to 57%. In the meantime, 15 terrorist groups and their factions are said to have fought for influence in Afghanistan. And the Islamic State has infiltrated the whole country over the past two years. In face of the increasingly harsh security situation in Afghanistan, following U.S. decision to send more troops to the country, the United States has also decided to step up its efforts to crack down on extremist groups such as the Taliban for the first time in four years. Trump made little mention of Afghanistan during his presidential campaign. Neither did he invite Afghan leaders to attend his inauguration ceremony. His new strategy for Afghanistan was delayed several months than expected. These signs were interpreted as Trump did not pay enough attention to Afghanistan. Moreover, the strategy was under criticism once being released. Critics say there were only tactical adjustments in the new strategy instead of real changes. Additionally, Trump has vowed to wipe out the Islamic State. His first National Security Strategy has given unprecedented attention to counter-terrorism. In this context, Trump is in urgent need of achieving progress on the Afghan issue to justify his new strategy. And Pakistan, which has a dual influence on the situation in Afghanistan as well as the Taliban, is seen as a key link in the implementation of Trump’s strategy. The China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue has also triggered a reaction from India who questioned the extension of CPEC to Afghanistan as a move to encircle India. It is obvious that the United States hopes to please India by targeting Pakistan. And Trump has won India’s praise by his words and deeds. In fact, after assuming office, Trump has stepped up his efforts to pull India closer. At the bilateral level, the United States regards India as a natural ally and is willing to develop a military, economic and diplomatic partnership with India that would last for a century. At the regional and global level, the United States has called on India to play a bigger role in the Afghan issue and the Indo-Pacific security structure. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to the United States, garnered Trump’s support for India to gain a permanent seat at the UN Security Council. It is worth noting that there are four factors behind Trump’s policy of allying India. First, the military standoff between China and India in the Doklam region has impaired the bilateral ties. And India is strengthening its relationship with the United States while is estranging from Russia. Second, for his new Afghan strategy, Trump needs to befriend India and de-friend Pakistan, since Afghanistan is where geopolitical rivalry between India and Pakistan lies. Third, Trump’s “Indo-Pacific” strategy in which India plays a big role was unveiled during Trump’s first Asia tour. The strategy was born from Japan’s plots of “arc of freedom and prosperity” and “democratic security diamond” which aim to curb China’s rise. Fourth, India and Pakistan became full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in last June. The SCO has been regarded by the western countries as a tool to confront them. It can be seen that the United States intends to cultivate India into a force to pin down China and Russia. The United States also wants to disrupt regional stability and cooperation by aggravating contradictions between India and Pakistan, thus making a profit from the possible chaos. In a word, Trump’s actions against Pakistan is a move in his geopolitical game. China, Russia and Pakistan should treat it seriously. Wu Jian, Research Fellow at Asia Pacific Institute, is the chef editor of News Network in China Radio International. (ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)

By APD writer Wu Jian

Translated by Shi Xiaomeng

At the beginning of 2018, the United States ripped into Pakistan, its former counter-terrorism ally. On Jan. 1, U.S. President Donald Trump wrote in his first tweet of the new year that “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 accused Pakistan of giving safe haven to terrorists. “No more!” the U.S. president twitted.

One day later, the White House said it will announce specific actions against Pakistan “in the next 24 to 48 hours.” And on Jan. 4, the United States said it would withhold its military aid to Pakistan.

During his speech focused on U.S. military engagement in Afghanistan in August last year, Trump has said the United States can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe haven for terrorist organizations. And in September, the United States suspended a 255 million-U.S.-dollar military aid to Pakistan. But it is still quite surprising to see a series of tough actions taken by the United States against Pakistan at the outset of 2018. One can say that Trump’s attitude towards Pakistan has been driven by the first meeting held among foreign ministers of China, Pakistan and Afghanistan as well as the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan. It is also a U.S. move to bring India to its side.

On Dec. 26, 2017, the first China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue was held in Beijing. The three countries agreed to list strategic communication, pragmatic cooperation and security dialogue as three priorities. The also agreed to discuss ways to extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan.

 China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue

China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue

Ever since the war in Afghanistan broke out, the United States has been playing a leading role in Afghanistan’s political process and the country’s political reconciliation process. In the U.S. view, China’s action this time has undoubtedly moved the cheese of the United States in Afghanistan. It fears that the U.S. influence over Afghanistan would be weakened.

Afghanistan, known as “heart of Asia,” is a juncture connecting Central Asia, Southern Asia, Eastern Asia and the Middle East. It also neighbors two major countries— China and Russia. Besides, Afghanistan is a key area breeding global terrorist activities. Therefore, Afghanistan is of significant geo-strategic value as well as anti-terror value for the United States. It has also become a bridgehead to pin down and deter China and Russia.

However, viewing from political or military perspective, it is not in the interest of the United States to ease the tense relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan or to extend the CPEC to Afghanistan. The United States intends to disturb and undermine the cooperation mechanism among China, Afghanistan and Pakistan by provoking the U.S. relations with Pakistan. To this end, the United States would be very likely to exert pressure on the pro-U.S. regime of Afghanistan as well.

Trump’s repeated criticism on Pakistan’s ineffective fighting against terrorism is due to the deterioration of Afghanistan’s security situation. In 2016, the Taliban has controlled or exerted influence over 171 of the 400 communities in Afghanistan, while the range of control of the Afghan government has decreased from 72% to 57%. In the meantime, 15 terrorist groups and their factions are said to have fought for influence in Afghanistan. And the Islamic State has infiltrated the whole country over the past two years. In face of the increasingly harsh security situation in Afghanistan, following U.S. decision to send more troops to the country, the United States has also decided to step up its efforts to crack down on extremist groups such as the Taliban for the first time in four years.

Trump made little mention of Afghanistan during his presidential campaign. Neither did he invite Afghan leaders to attend his inauguration ceremony. His new strategy for Afghanistan was delayed several months than expected. These signs were interpreted as Trump did not pay enough attention to Afghanistan. Moreover, the strategy was under criticism once being released. Critics say there were only tactical adjustments in the new strategy instead of real changes.

Additionally, Trump has vowed to wipe out the Islamic State. His first National Security Strategy has given unprecedented attention to counter-terrorism. In this context, Trump is in urgent need of achieving progress on the Afghan issue to justify his new strategy. And Pakistan, which has a dual influence on the situation in Afghanistan as well as the Taliban, is seen as a key link in the implementation of Trump’s strategy.

The China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue has also triggered a reaction from India who questioned the extension of CPEC to Afghanistan as a move to encircle India. It is obvious that the United States hopes to please India by targeting Pakistan. And Trump has won India’s praise by his words and deeds. In fact, after assuming office, Trump has stepped up his efforts to pull India closer. At the bilateral level, the United States regards India as a natural ally and is willing to develop a military, economic and diplomatic partnership with India that would last for a century. At the regional and global level, the United States has called on India to play a bigger role in the Afghan issue and the Indo-Pacific security structure. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to the United States, garnered Trump’s support for India to gain a permanent seat at the UN Security Council.

It is worth noting that there are four factors behind Trump’s policy of allying India. First, the military standoff between China and India in the Doklam region has impaired the bilateral ties. And India is strengthening its relationship with the United States while is estranging from Russia. Second, for his new Afghan strategy, Trump needs to befriend India and de-friend Pakistan, since Afghanistan is where geopolitical rivalry between India and Pakistan lies. Third, Trump’s “Indo-Pacific” strategy in which India plays a big role was unveiled during Trump’s first Asia tour.

The strategy was born from Japan’s plots of “arc of freedom and prosperity” and “democratic security diamond” which aim to curb China’s rise. Fourth, India and Pakistan became full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in last June. The SCO has been regarded by the western countries as a tool to confront them.

It can be seen that the United States intends to cultivate India into a force to pin down China and Russia. The United States also wants to disrupt regional stability and cooperation by aggravating contradictions between India and Pakistan, thus making a profit from the possible chaos. In a word, Trump’s actions against Pakistan is a move in his geopolitical game. China, Russia and Pakistan should treat it seriously.


Wu Jian, Research Fellow at Asia Pacific Institute, is the chef editor of News Network in China Radio International.

(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)

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