Addressing terrorism concerns can prevent Pak-US split: USIP scholar

Says Washington could get tougher with Islamabad especially on the issue of terrorist sanctuaries

News Desk August 10, 2017
Says Washington could get tougher with Islamabad especially on the issue of terrorist sanctuaries. PHOTO: AFP

Pakistan can avoid ‘rupture’ in relations with the United States by helping it stabilise Afghanistan.

This was suggested by Dr Moeed Yusuf, associate vice president of the Asia Centre at the US Institute of Peace (USIP) Washington, while speaking at the Centre  for International Strategic Studies (CISS), an Islamabad based think-tank, on ‘Trump Administration’s Prospective Policy towards Pakistan’.

Dr Yusuf proposed that Pakistan should act against Haqqani Network and Taliban in a verifiable manner.

He gave an overview of the ongoing reassessment of US policy on Afghanistan by Trump administration and its likely implications for strained Pak-US ties. The policy that would emerge from the process, which has come to be known as the ‘South Asia review’, is expected to have a greater regional perspective.

Dr Yusuf touched on reports that Washington could get tougher with Islamabad especially on the issue of terrorist sanctuaries. He said there were divisions within Trump administration on how to deal with Pakistan, but one view that is gaining traction among the public is that pressure on Islamabad for acting against Taliban and Haqqani Network should be ramped up.

Violence has gone up in Afghanistan, where Afghan government is struggling to contain Taliban insurgency. As per UN statistics, there have been 1,662 civilian deaths during the first six months of the year, a majority of which was because of suicide attacks and improvised explosive device blasts.

Military casualties have also been shockingly high. President Trump appears to be losing patience with the situation and in one of the review meetings suggested firing his top commander in Afghanistan Gen John Nicholson.

Pakistan is blamed for the worsening situation in Afghanistan for not eliminating Haqqani Network and Taliban sanctuaries. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs and Acting Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Alice Wells while visiting Islamabad last week, stressed that “Pakistani soil must not be used to plan or conduct terrorist attacks against its neighbours”.

Dr Yusuf warned that a breakdown in bilateral relationship would serve neither country’s interests and advised that ways should be explored to avoid such an undesirable situation. He noted that while neither sides wanted a split   a terrorism incident in Afghanistan with American casualties can push the two in that direction.

Dr Yusuf was further of the view that while it was difficult for US and Pakistan to develop convergence on Afghanistan, India, and nuclear issue, efforts should be made for broadening the areas of cooperation.

Earlier, Executive Director CISS Ali Sarwar Naqvi gave his perspective on US-Pakistan relations and the existing regional situation

Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2017.


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