Pakistan's alliance with the United States seems to be coming toward an end following the US decision to suspend security aid, Pakistan Minister of Foreign Affairs Khawaja Asif told the Wall Street Journal on Friday (January 5).
Asif said he believes the US-Pakistan relations are now at risk, especially after the tensions heightened and moods turned sour when President Donald Trump warned Islamabad to "do more" against terrorists, to whom, he alleged, the country provides safe havens.
"We do not have any alliance [with the US], this is not how allies behave," the minister told WSJ.
On New Year's Day, US President Donald Trump tweeted that the US had "foolishly" given Pakistan over $33 billion in aid over the past 15 years, adding that Islamabad gives "safe havens to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help.
"No more!" Trump added.
The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal said the foreign minister's statement further ratcheted up an increasingly tense exchange in the past week between the two countries, which have maintained a rocky anti-terror collaboration since the September 11, 2001, attacks: "Those ties have frayed but not broken despite differences over Afghanistan, India, and the 2011 U.S. raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan, which was undertaken without Islamabad's prior knowledge."
In that fraught context, the two countries' relations appeared likely to continue in a grudging, distrustful way, given that Washington and Islamabad haven't taken more drastic steps or moved to actually dissolve the bulk of their complex ties, WSJ added.
For Washington, jettisoning support for a longtime nuclear-armed ally in a strategic location isn't easy. For its part, Pakistan fears a full break could lead the U.S. to apply its leverage in international forums to hurt the country's economy, according to WSJ.
A long-festering dispute lies at the heart of the conflict between the two countries: The U.S. accuses Pakistan of harboring jihadists who kill American soldiers in Afghanistan, while Islamabad says Washington doesn't adequately acknowledge Pakistan's role in decimating al Qaeda or its sacrifice of thousands of lives after joining America's war on terror, the WSJ report said, adding:
"Islamabad also sees the U.S. growing ever closer to its archenemy India, with the Trump administration even inviting New Delhi to take a bigger role in Afghanistan--a move experts say all but guaranteed Pakistan's pullback from cooperating with the U.S. The cleavage could push Pakistan further into the arms of China and complicate America's effort to end the Afghanistan war, its longest-running conflict. BMI Research, an economic-analysis firm based in London, said in a report Friday that the U.S. suspension of aid "will likely accelerate Pakistan's geopolitical drift towards China."
New York Times: Dealing with Pakistan is both vital and difficult
Afghan officials have pleaded with three American presidents to reconsider their support for Pakistan, which was both receiving billions of dollars in American aid and harboring the leaders of a Taliban insurgency that the United States has struggled to defeat, the New York Times said, adding:
"But when President Trump suspended nearly all American security aid to Pakistan on Thursday for what he called the country's 'lies and deceit,' any jubilation in the halls of power in Afghanistan -- and there was some -- was leavened with worry over how the move might affect a complex war that has pushed the Afghan government to the brink.
"If there is one consensus among Afghan leaders and their American counterparts, it is that dealing with Pakistan is both vital and difficult. The question on the table after the cutoff of military aid to Pakistan is who will come under the most pressure: the Pakistanis, or the coalition fighting the Taliban."
Muhammed Umer Daudzai, a former Afghan interior minister and ambassador to Pakistan, was quoted as saying: "The pressure on Pakistan had come too late, with the country having developed regional allies who would help it weather the financial toll. The financial sanctions may not bite Pakistan because they have developed alternatives."