‘Trump administration trying something new for Pakistan’

01/08/2018

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8: The Trump administration believes that it is time to try something new other than maintaining strategic patience and offering inducements to Pakistan to prevent it becoming a safe haven for terrorists from where they can attack the US and its allies, a senior official said.

He said the polices followed by the successive US administrations post 9/11 vis-à-vis Pakistan have not worked.

The US is committed to not allowing either Pakistan or Afghanistan to become a safe haven for terrorists from where they can attack the US and its allies, said the senior Trump administration official who spoke to a group of reporters on condition of anonymity.

“These sanctuaries really threaten stability in the region and they continue to fuel the overall terrorism problem that we’re facing,” he said.

Noting that the “previous administrations have tried to exercise what they might call strategic patience or offering inducements like Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill which gave billions of dollars to Pakistan”, the official said none of it has worked so far.

Terrorists continue to operate freely inside Pakistan and there is a relationship between terrorist organisations and the establishment, he said.

“This administration believes it’s time to try something different. And we believe we owe it to the Americans in harm’s way in Afghanistan. We simply can’t ignore the sanctuaries if we’re going to make progress in Afghanistan,” he said, adding that “the president has been clear about his commitment to stabilising Afghanistan”.

Last week, the Trump administration suspended approximately $2 billion in security assistance to Pakistan, resulting in an outrage from Islamabad.

The Pakistan Foreign Minister, in an interview to The Wall Street Journal, had said that America was no longer an ally of Pakistan.

About President Donald Trump’s comprehensive South Asia strategy for regional diplomacy announced in August last year, the official said, “It looked at India-Pakistan relations, encouraging better ties between the two countries and reducing tensions between them”.

The policy is not about looking at Pakistan through the lens of Afghanistan, but it is about looking at the region and the future of the US, he said.

“9/11 attacks you know had their roots in this region. We’ve invested a lot of blood and treasure in Afghanistan. We are committed to not allowing the Taliban to dominate Afghanistan and we are committed to not allowing Afghanistan or Pakistan to become a safe haven from which terrorists can attack the US and its allies,” the official said.

“So, I wouldn’t classify it is looking at Pakistan through the Afghanistan lens. I think that’s too narrow of a viewpoint. I think this is about the region and the future of the region. And the fact that these continued sanctuaries really threaten stability in the region and they continue to fuel the overall terrorism problem that we’re facing,” he said.

Former Speaker of the US House of Representative, Newt Gingrich, in an interview to AM970 in New York said that Trump has “shocked the elites” by freezing US aid to Pakistan.

“It has so thoroughly shocked the elites that we actually are going to protect America, and defend America, and that we’re actually going to render judgement,” he said.

“If you kick us in the shin, we’re not going to pay you,” Gingrich said. TIE

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