The Trump administration is considering dropping Pakistan as an ally as it examines tough measures to quell more than 20 terrorist groups it says are based in the country, a UK publication had reported.
Financial Times reported that officials familiar with the Pakistan prong of Washington’s new “AfPak” strategy — which involves an open-ended commitment in Afghanistan and praise for India — say it has yet to be fleshed out. But they have plenty of levers.
President Donald Trump last month promised to get tough on Pakistan, accusing it of “housing the very terrorists that we are fighting”.
US seeks to placate Pakistan anger over Trump’s diatribe
The administration has already put $255 million in military aid on hold after Trump announced the policy shift. It is eyeing an escalating series of threats, which include cutting some civilian aid, conducting unilateral drone strikes on Pakistani soil and imposing travel bans on officers of the ISI, the country’s intelligence agency.
It could also revoke Pakistan’s status as a major non-Nato ally or designate it a state sponsor of terrorism. The latter options would limit weapons sales and probably affect billions of dollars in IMF and World Bank loans, along with access to global finance.
Relations are expected to take a further blow from US efforts to forge closer ties with rival India.
In dealing with Trump, Pakistan plays its trump card
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said this week it was “unfair” to blame his country for troubles in Afghanistan, adding that the US should have greater respect for its efforts to combat militancy. Ryan Crocker, former US ambassador to Pakistan in the wake of 9/11, says Pakistan resents the wild oscillations in support from the US.
“They went from our most allied of allies to our most sanctioned of sanctioned,” he said, recalling that the US worked with Pakistan to defeat Soviet Russia during the 1980s Afghanistan invasion but, once it had won, cut aid and imposed sanctions over its emergent nuclear programme. “Their narrative about us is here today, gone tomorrow and it has deeply affected their strategic thinking.”
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