Former United States and Pakistani officials have warned that a crack in ties between the two nations is not in the interests of either and cautioned that another terrorist attack in America could lead to a violent reaction against Islamabad. The officials met at the US Institute for Peace on Thursday to discuss the future of Pak-US relations under President-elect Donald Trump’s administration which will take effect from Jan 2017.
South Asia expert Lisa Curtis and Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States Hussain Haqqani described the worst possible scenario: a major terrorist attack in the United States with roots in Pakistan would lead to an “all bets off” retaliation, reports the Dawn.
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Former US assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian Affairs Robin Raphel discussed the possibility of the militant Islamic State (IS) group growing deep roots in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In such a case, “if the administration does what Trump had suggested…you could have another period of an increase in (US) military assistance to Pakistan,” she said.
The participating members noted that the US-Pakistan ties received little attention in the presidential campaign but the Trump administration will have to deal with the important relationship when in power.
The former officials also reviewed the impact of about two billion dollars of US aid on the bilateral relationship.
Curtis, member of a conservation think tank the Heritage Foundation, warned that US security assistance to Pakistan would “continue to decline, unless we have some changes in Pakistan’s policy, including arrests and prosecutions of terrorists”.
A decline in relations could be averted, she said, if Pakistan denies free movement of the Afghan Taliban in the country and assert pressure that would bring the extremist leaders to the negotiating table.
Haqqani, said that the “most likely scenario, we will have, of course, curbs on immigration from Pakistan….aid will decline, and there will be some reaction in Pakistan”.
He added: “I hope that it is measured so that it doesn’t provoke another reaction cycle here.”
The most likely scenario, according to Raphel, would be the new administration having “a re-look and tighten up, harden up on the issues” such as the Afghan Taliban’s use of Pakistan as a safe haven. She hoped that “Pakistan will probably, at least in the short term, pull up its socks … and … accelerate plans that it might have to deal with some of these groups.”