ISLAMABAD: Senator Farhatullah Babar on Monday said the US President Trump may be “mad” but there is also method in his madness. Instead of responding angrily, Pakistan should give a calculated, measured and methodical response.
Speaking at a seminar on Pak-US relations, organised by the SDPI in Islamabad on Monday, Senator Farhatullah Babar reminded that Trump’s New Year tweet was preceded by announcement of new rules of engagement, of ‘unilateral action’ and resumption of drone strikes. “The suspension of all security assistance on Jan 5 was, therefore, no surprise,” he said.
He said Pakistan's response of alternately waving olive branch and brandishing threats is not policy but dithering. Senator Farhatullah Babar said the December 4th ISPR statement, expressing readiness to look into the possibility of miscreants and the seizing of assets of affiliated charities of militant organisations, may have been positive but have not been backed by concrete policy measures.
He said the hurriedly-called meeting of the National Command Authority (NCA) after nearly two years to reaffirm yet again “full spectrum nuclear deterrence” just on the eve of Vice President Pence’s visit to Kabul on December 22 seemed like brandishing nuclear weapons and termed it unwise.
He said the tendency to overplay the cards of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and thoughtless threats to send back Afghan refugees or ‘weapon of mass migration’ should be eschewed. “The aid suspension is not a big issue, and it is déjà vu. The steep decline in relations is the issue,” he said.
Senator Farhatullah Babar said the 33 billion dollars over a period of 15 years touted by Trump amounts to no more than 5 months of our national budget. Aid was suspended after the 1965 war with India. Carter suspended all aid in 1979 for nuclear enrichment. Aid was substantially cut in 1990 under Pressler Amendment,” he said and added that while in 1993 the USAID offices in Pakistan were closed for nearly eight years and after 1998 nuclear tests US aid was totally stopped.
He said the US tilt towards India began since March 2000 when Clinton spent five days in India and just five hours in Pakistan during which he played “Holi” in India but in Pakistan, warned “terrorism would eventually destroy Pakistan from within."
Senator Farhatullah Babar said Clinton and not Trump forged this new relationship built upon by subsequent US administrations. “Total rupture with the US will make Pakistan’s reliance on China perilously one sided,” he warned.
About contradictions, he said that on the one hand we deny existence of sanctuaries, and, on the other, we say that we do not want to bring Afghan war into Pakistan. “If Afghan Taliban are not in Pakistan how will the fight against them enter Pakistan,” he questioned.
He said on the one hand we ask for addresses of the Afghan Taliban in Pakistan and on the other do not investigate as to who gave CNIC/ passport to Mullah Mansoor Akhtar. “The former Adviser Sartaj Aziz had publicly admitted that some Taliban leaders were not only living in Pakistan but had also been extended some facilities,” he said.
He called for increasing the civilian input in policy formulation and lamented that when sometime back the defence minister talked of joint operation against militants, it was promptly rebuffed by the ISPR.
He said that the recent Senate policy guidelines also stressed the need for a verifiable mechanism to address mutual allegations of cross border terrorism. We also need to make progress in the Mumbai attack case as well as investigations in the attack on Pathankot airbase last year.
Senator Farhatullah Babar said BRICS declaration and Ashraf Ghani’s decision banning Pakistani trucks should have served as eye openers. “After suspending security assistance, he foresaw travel curbs on security personnel to the US if the headlong plunge in relations continued,” he said.