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Trump Lashes Pakistan over Afghan War

By       Message Dennis Bernstein       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink

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In recent days, Pakistan has found itself in the crosshairs of President Donald Trump's Tweet-threats to the surprise of many since Pakistan has not been a country that has drawn much of his attention in his first year in office.

Trump's first tweet of 2018 was about the U.S. relationship with Pakistan. "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," Trump tweeted on Jan. 1. "They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!"

Then, on Jan 4, the State Department announced that the U.S. was freezing a good portion of the military aid the U.S. offers to Pakistan. The cut/freeze could be as much as $1.3 billion.

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Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif was furious. He said, after the suspension was announced, that the U.S. had turned Islamabad into a "whipping boy" for 17 years of failure in the U.S.-led war against Afghanistan. Khawaja told the Wall Street Journal that "This is not how allies behave."

I spoke about the new Trump policy and its many implications with Junaid Ahmad. an assistant professor at the University of Lahore in Pakistan and Secretary-General of the International Movement for a Just World. I spoke to Professor Ahmad on Jan. 3.

Dennis Bernstein: Could you begin by describing what the International Movement for a Just World is?

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Junaid Ahmad: We are an NGO [non-governmental organization] based in Malaysia which has networked over several decades now with a lot of the global justice campaigns, the anti-war movement, and the anti-corporate globalization movement. Particularly in East Asia we have been one of the organizations at the forefront of these groups and are very well connected with other groups in North America, Latin America, Europe and Africa.

Dennis Bernstein: Let's talk a little bit about the Trump administration's current relations with Pakistan. Trump says he is very angry about Pakistan's support for the Taliban.

Junaid Ahmad: The mainstream media in America does such a great job of manufacturing historical amnesia when it comes to this part of the world. We have had to deal with all the ghosts and the beasts and the monsters created by the US empire and its clients like Saudi Arabia.

This is something the American empire doesn't want people to understand in a straightforward way. Foreign occupations, particularly when they last this long, will inevitably generate opposition. In Afghanistan, none of the great empires lasted very long.

Washington planners have always tended to blame any problems faced by the occupation on its favorite scapegoat, which is Pakistan. This is not to say that the Taliban does not have any relationship with the Pakistani establishment. But we should point out that it is nothing like the relationship that existed in the 1990's, where the Pakistani support for the Taliban was indispensable for its taking power in Kabul.

Today, it is a very different situation and the term Taliban is somewhat misleading because it is not just a particular group or ideological force but, in fact, an umbrella group for a variety of resistance forces, principally based within the Pashtun ethnic population, which constitutes about 60% of the country and is opposed to NATO occupation and its client regime in Kabul.

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But the policy analysts in Washington and the administration and the Pentagon and the mainstream media do not want to confront this because it is far easier to simply blame Islamabad for all of the problems in Afghanistan.

The second part of this story is to ask why the United States continues with its failed misadventure in Afghanistan. I don't think this has anything to do with any resurgence of terrorism in that country or any threat it poses to the West itself. US and British intelligence reports have made it clear that Islamabad has actually been fairly cooperative in sharing intelligence regarding potential risks to the West from terrorist elements and has handed over suspected terrorists.

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Dennis J Bernstein is the host and executive producer of Flashpoints, a daily news magazine broadcast on Pacifica Radio. He is an award-winning investigative reporter, essayist and poet. His articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Nation, and (more...)

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