The Trump administration has informed members of the US Congress that they will soon announce plans to cut off “security assistance” for Pakistan, Congressional workers said Wednesday. This came one day after the White House warned Islamabad that it needed to do more to receive US aid on the anti-terror front.
Helpers in two congressional bureaus said that the US State Department called them on Wednesday to inform them that on Wednesday or Thursday they would announce that help will be interrupted, though it was not clear how much, of what kind or for how long.
On Tuesday, the White House said Pakistan wanted to do more to fight terrorism, and it would probably announce actions to put Islamabad under pressure. Earlier, United States Permanent Mission to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said that Washington would hold back $ 255 million in aid to Pakistan. The US has accused Pakistan of playing a “double game” in the fight against terrorism, and warned Islamabad that if it wanted US aid, it would have to do more.
As it is unlikely that Washington will be satisfied with Pakistan’s efforts, White House spokeswoman Sara Sanders said: “Regarding specific actions (against Pakistan), I think you will find out more in the next 24 to 48 hours . ” Pakistan has always failed to meet American demands, and experts say Pakistan, like any other country, has primary interests, and those interests include maintaining relations with the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network.
What options could the Trump administration now take to tackle Pakistan? At this moment, the American-Pakistani relationship participates in a tense waiting game. At some point in the coming months, Washington will decide if Pakistan will meet its demands and take stock. If the demands do not meet expectations, the United States could resort to harsh measures.
Michael Kugelman of the Woodrow Wilson Center told ANI: “There are signs that this White House is more willing to take more rigorous measures that could lead to a degree of Pakistani retribution.” “The Trump administration has no patience for Pakistan’s position on terrorism,” he added. After cuts in security assistance, America’s likely next step could be to expand its drone warfare and target Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network leaders in the Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces.
“The Trump administration knows how Pakistani is fighting terrorism, and Pakistan does not pursue terrorists like the Haqqani network targeting Americans in Afghanistan, so extending the drone attacks is a punitive act,” Kugelman said. In fact, Washington might conclude that if Pakistan does not approach terrorists threatening its soldiers and interests in Afghanistan, America itself could take over this job.
Kugelman further revealed that America could conduct a special operation in Pakistan to stun big-fish terrorists. However, this would likely require intelligence support from Pakistan, which the latter may not provide, he added. One of the most frequently mentioned options is the sanctioning of Pakistani security guards with terrorist attachments. President Donald Trump’s “stubborn” approach to Pakistan could potentially include this, analysts say. Other responses include downgrading Pakistan’s status as a key non-NATO ally and determining its status as a state sponsor of terror.
America’s possible muscle maneuvers would certainly lead to extreme Pakistani retaliatory strikes, such as the closure of NATO supply routes and the suspension of intelligence exchanges with Washington, which could jeopardize US interests in Afghanistan. The abandonment of more draconian policies could not only prevent dangerous Pakistani retaliatory attacks and threats against US interests, but also ensure that Pakistan continues to support the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network – a relationship that has long threatened US interests Kugelman. (ANI)