Donald Trump will have to embrace “unilateralism” against Pakistan as President Barack Obama did when it hunt down Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, a former Pakistani diplomat has said, arguing that USD 33 billion of US funding has failed to change Islamabad’s policy on terrorism. Husain Haqqani, a former Pakistan ambassador to the US, also predicted that the Trump administration, which takes over in January, will downgrade Pakistan from its current status of a “major non-NATO ally”.
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“For the generals in Islamabad, and many civilian leaders, Pakistan’s competition with India justifies breaking promises with the US and continuing support for jihadist terrorism, from the Taliban to the Haqqani network, as part of its plans for regional influence to match India’s,” he wrote in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal yesterday.
“So USD 21 billion in funding under the Obama administration could not change Pakistan, just as USD 12.4 billion given to Pakistan under the Bush administration failed to shut down its terrorism incubators,” he wrote.
“(But) under President Obama, the US did manage to hunt down Osama bin Laden in his safe house in Pakistan, without Pakistan’s permission. The Trump administration will have to embrace similar unilateralism if and when needed, in addition to the almost inevitable downgrading of Pakistan from its current status as a major non-NATO ally,” Haqqani said.
Osama was killed less than a mile from Pakistan’s elite military academy in Abbottabad in a dramatic raid by US Navy Seals on May 2, 2011. The US conducted the highly secret operation unilaterally, without informing Pakistan government.
When contacted by the PTI for clarification on his op-ed, Haqqani said, “I am predicting that the Trump administration will probably downgrade Pakistan from the status of major non-NATO ally.”
Haqqani, the director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute in Washington, also said that getting the Pakistan policy right — including a review of the predicates for any aid — remains the key to US victory in Afghanistan.
Until the rise of Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan were the principal training grounds for Islamist terrorists, the former Pakistani diplomat said, citing almost all of al-Qaeda terrorists convicted in Britain since 2001, including the July 7, 2005, London Underground bombers and Dhiren Barot – the so-called “Dirty Bomber” – were trained in Pakistan.
He said the rise of global jihadism was made possible by America’s pre-occupation with current news while the Soviet bloc crumbled during the first couple of years of the 1990s.
“This time, the US should not ignore the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater because the brutalities of ISIS, and its proximity to Europe, are the immediate cause of concern,” he said.