A unanimous parliamentary resolution in Islamabad on August 30, which denounced United States President Donald Trump’s “complete disregard for Pakistan’s vast sacrifices” in counter-terror efforts and called on the government to consider suspending cooperation with the US, possibly defined the new contours of ties with Washington. Also, the tone and tenor of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who chaired two emergency huddles of the National Security Committee (NSC), a forum comprising top civilian and army officials, indicated that after a decade-and-a half of rocky ties Pakistani civilian and military elites have decided to collectively reject Trump’s intimidation of Pakistan while unveiling his new Afghan and South Asia strategy, on August 20.
With this Pakistan drew the line between its own course of anti-terror action and the demands placed by Trump. It went into an “enough is enough” mode in unison, and foreign minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif put off his Washington visit, advising Alice Wells, US secretary of state for South and Central Asia, to do the same to avoid mutual embarrassments.
Both Abbasi and army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa openly rebuked Trump for singling out Pakistan as the cause of Afghanistan’s troubles, and instead demanded “due” recognition of its material losses (up to $125 billion) and human sacrifices (nearly 70,000) in the anti-terror war. Abbasi went to the extent of forecasting doom for Trump’s Afghan policy.
And there are cogent reasons for this bravado in Islamabad.
First, Trump and Prime Minister Modi’s ascendant views on Pakistan have fuelled frustration and driven the political Right and Left into believing that the “unholy collusion” comprising India, Afghanistan and the US is aimed at hurting the interests — not only of Pakistan but also of its political allies such as China and Russia. Even the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), an ardent supporter for friendly relations with India, and Imran Khan’s PTI, appeared incensed over the India-US synergy on Afghanistan. Raza Rabbani, the chairman of the upper house of parliament and a former PPP stalwart, too, openly speaks of New Delhi’s intransigence.
Second, most Pakistani officials insist, that the Trump strategy gives an open cheque to India for mounting a double front against Pakistan, and hence are extremely suspicious of the motives.