Pakistan on Trump’s Afghanistan plan: Nope

8/23/17
 
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from ThinkProgress,
8/22/17:

The president wants to lean on Pakistan’s regional rival India for support in Afghanistan.

President Donald Trump’s new military plan for Afghanistan, announced on Monday, features leaning heavily on Pakistan and India.

In addition to announcing that he would send an unspecified number of U.S. troops to Afghanistan to continue America’s longest war, Trump also accused Pakistan on Monday of giving “safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror” and asked India — with which Pakistan has a very contentious relationship — to do more to help. It’s not clear why Trump thought that it would be a good idea to further pit the two nuclear powers against each other to help development in Afghanistan, and it hasn’t been received well so far in South Asia.

Aitzaz Ahsan, Pakistan People’s Party’s central leader, told ThinkProgress that “enormous disappointment” is the dominant response to Trump’s speech in Pakistan. “There is no takeaway for Pakistan at all. Encouraging India to establish itself in Afghanistan is enabling it to create a grip around Pakistan,” said Ahsan, who accused India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “hostility towards Pakistan.”

“Pakistan has been the front line state against terror and has been fighting terrorist organizations on the ground. It has lost more soldiers in this fight than any other country,” said Ahsan, describing his country as a “modern, liberal society which is threatened and in jeopardy because of the extremists groups.”

Ahsan said he hoped Monday’s statement “like many of Mr. Trump’s statements” will “not mean what he actually says – and that the Pentagon and State Department, whose officials are more grounded in this situation and have a better appreciation of Pakistan’s fight against terror… will prevail over what Mr. Trump has said.”

Sameer Lalwani, deputy director at the Stimson Center’s South Asia program, said the strategy might boil down to “trying to coerce Pakistan with a poor set of cards.”

“The strategy hasn’t written off Pakistan in that they’ll never be responsive to U.S. inducements and coercions… and that has been tried multiple times over by the Bush and Obama administrations and ultimately didn’t bear fruit, so it’s hard to see how this will work better.”

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