Noting that the US is yet to find an effective way to gain Pakistan’s full cooperation in the fight against international terrorism, a top American expert on South Asian issues has said that the country needs a dose of President-elect Donald Trump’s madman diplomacy. “Trump may be uniquely well positioned to deliver a credible ultimatum to Pakistan: “Begin a full-scale, verifiable, and rapid offensive against all terrorist groups on Pakistani soil, or else,” Daniel Markey, a well-known South Asian expert, wrote in Foreign Policy magazine.
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“Trump’s madman qualities would make the “or else” more frightening than just about anything a Clinton (or Obama) administration could have dreamed up, as his threat need not even be thoroughly specified in order to have the desired effect,” he wrote. “Everything, from punitive military action to public shaming, sanctions, and an outright anti-Pakistani alliance with India, could be on the table, even if such actions would affect US interests,” he said.
In a hard-hitting op-ed, Markey alleged that at worst, Pakistan is an enemy, a state sponsor of terrorism in all but name, a host to anti-Afghan, anti-Indian jihadi militants with American blood on their hands. “It is widely accepted in US policy circles that Pakistan’s military and intelligence services prefer to maintain friendly ties with some terrorists for two reasons. First, they are useful proxies to destabilise Pakistan’s neighbours and second, they would also be deadly adversaries if confronted head-on,” he said.
Washington has tried just about everything to alter Pakistan’s position, Markey said. Incentives, in the form of tens of billions of dollars in US military and civilian assistance, have won some concessions such as opening overland supply routes to US forces in Afghanistan, he added. More coercive measures, including behind-the-scenes threats, public rebukes, withholding assistance, and direct military strikes against Pakistan-based terrorists have also paid tactical dividends.
But neither approach succeeded in changing Pakistan’s core strategic calculations, he rued. Markey said although there is little doubt that past and current US policies with Pakistan have failed to deliver satisfaction on core US concerns, a truly mad approach could produce far worse failures. “This is why recent administrations have swallowed back the bile from Pakistan’s double-dealing. It is also a good reason for Trump’s advisors to think twice, even if their boss could be the most effective madman since Nixon,” Markey said.