Trump’s sudden fight with Pakistan, enter Russia?

By Mahak Paliwal

As a prominent saying goes, ‘insanity’ means persistently doing the same thing again and again while anticipating a different result. This is a lesson that the United States has learnt from Pakistan.

US president Trump’s decision to suspend aid to Asian country has has earned the United States worldwide applause. The suspension amounts to a pause on the annual payment of $255 million in aid that was granted to Pakistan for military equipment and training under the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) fund. Also, the sum of $700 million was provided to the Asian nation to help it conduct operations against militant groups. On January 1, 2018, President Trump tweeted, “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools.” He added, “They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

The decision to cut aid has gained a lot of attention while becoming a topic of global debate. Experts are of the opinion that the move will squeeze Pakistan’s military and support for militants in the country. Prof Hasan Askari Rizvi also explains that, in the realm of international competition, ”It will also be a setback in the long term as China or any other friendly country cannot totally replace the resources that Pakistan needs to keep its military machine well oiled.” The downturn in the relationship between the United States and Pakistan is also likely to have an impact on the sharing intelligence.

Pakistan acts against militant groups

Pakistani officials contend that immense efforts have already been made by the government to curb terrorism in their country. The nation has made great sacrifices to support the United States’ war on terror. “We have contributed and sacrificed the most in fighting international terrorism and carried out the largest counterterrorism operation anywhere in the world,” says Maleeha Lodhi, the Pakistan ambassador to the United Nations. “We can review our cooperation if it is not appreciated” she added.

In the past, Pakistan organised Operation Zarb-e-Azb’, a fully developed military operation in North Waziristan, and experienced a severe setback during the fighting. Subsequent to this, approximately 200 school going children were attacked and killed by militants. The incident acted as a trigger for the government of Pakistan.

Substantial amendments were made to the country’s laws and the government brought into force a National Action Plan, which aimed at countering the terrorists militarily, economically, politically and in their religious teaching. Acts of the Pakistani Parliament, such as POPA 2014, and amendments to Section 21 of the Anti-Terrorist Act have also been made to assist the law-enforcement agencies.

However, the efforts of the state have so far been in vain. The increased atrocities on minorities in recent years plainly shows how active religious intolerance continues to grow in the country. Additionally, with the absence of any effective counter-terrorism policy, the security situation for civilians in the country has only continued to deteriorate. Instances of suicide attacks, internal displacement, and economic losses have also increased.

The Russia/Pakistan relationship

In view of the American decision to suffocate the aid it has been providing to Pakistan, the country’s government has decided to slow down its purchase of American goods and announced that it will now begin to buy more weapons from China, Russia, and various Eastern European countries. Pakistan’s defence minister Khurram Dastgir Khan said his country was undergoing a “regional recalibration” of its “foreign and security policy.”

Pakistan is openly collaborating with Russia and China to acquire military supplies. In mid-February, Russia and Pakistan also established a commission, which is to consider further military cooperation in order to deal with Islamic terror in the region.  Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said “We have confirmed Russia’s readiness to continue boosting Pakistan’s counterterrorism capacity, which is in the entire region’s interests.”

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