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September 17, 2017

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US plans steps against Pakistan

US plans steps against Pakistan

WASHINGTON:  The Trump administration is considering dropping Pakistan as an ally as it examines tough measures to quell more than 20 terrorist groups it says are based in the country, says a report in foreign media.

Officials familiar with the Pakistan prong of Washington’s new “AfPak” strategy — which involves an open-ended commitment in Afghanistan and praise for India — say it has yet to be fleshed out. But they have plenty of levers.

President Donald Trump last month promised to get tough on Pakistan, accusing it of “housing the very terrorists that we are fighting”. It was the most public breach yet in an often rocky relationship.

The administration has already put $255m in military aid on hold after Trump announced the policy shift. It is eyeing an escalating series of threats, which include cutting some civilian aid, conducting unilateral drone strikes on Pakistani soil and imposing travel bans on suspect officials. It could also revoke Pakistan’s status as a major non-Nato ally or designate it a state sponsor of terrorism.

The latter options would limit weapons sales and probably affect billions of dollars in IMF and World Bank loans, along with access to global finance.

“Thinking of Pakistan as an ally will continue to create problems for the next administration as it did for the last one,” Lisa Curtis, former CIA analyst who now leads South Asia policy in the National Security Council, wrote in a joint report with Hussain Haqqani earlier this year.

Ms Curtis, who works closely with the State Department, believes the Obama administration “erred” by relying on personal ties and aid packages to try to change Pakistan’s behaviour.

Mike Mullen, former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said “It was my belief and continues to be my belief that unless we had an ally that we could work together to greatly eliminate the threat then our efforts in Afghanistan were going to fail. In 2011 when we killed [Osama] Bin Laden, relations were at their worst, but on the face of it, it’s worse now just because we haven’t talked to them much.”

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said this week it is “unfair” to blame his country for troubles in Afghanistan, adding that the US should have greater respect for its efforts to combat militancy.

 

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