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20 Jun 2017

Trump admin hardens stance towards Pak, may expand drone strikes

Trump considering more assertive policy against Pakistan

US President Donald Trump is planning to take a harsher stance against Islamabad in a bid to crackdown on Pakistan-based militant groups responsible for attacks in Afghanistan.

Unnamed US officials said Trump may expand drone strikes, withhold or redirect aid to Pakistan and downgrade Islamabad's status as a major non-NATO ally.

The Trump administration is reviewing US policy towards the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

In context

Trump considering more assertive policy against Pakistan
Pakistan's blamed for supporting attacks on Afghanistan

Proxy war?

Pakistan's blamed for supporting attacks on Afghanistan

Experts argue that Taliban-linked militants have been allowed to regroup and mount a resurgent insurgency in Afghanistan, thanks to safe havens in Pakistan.

Afghanistan has repeatedly blamed Pakistan for fomenting instability in its territory.

The US also blames Pakistani spy agency ISI for having links to the Haqqani network, responsible for conducting some of Afghanistan's deadliest attacks.

Pakistan rejects these allegations.

US military had called Haqqanis an arm of the ISIS

The US has been growing increasingly frustrated over the Haqqani network's presence in Pakistani soil. In 2011, US Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, the then senior most US military officer, told Congress that the Haqqani network was a "veritable arm" of the ISI.

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Why the US needs to crack down on Pakistan

The US has acknowledged that the situation in Afghanistan is worsening and that the US-backed Afghan forces are struggling against a resurgent Taliban.

Washington is considering deploying thousands of additional troops in Afghanistan.

Experts believe, unless the US manages to pressurize Pakistan into making the Taliban curb its operations, the ultimate objective, i.e. a negotiated peace settlement with the militants, will be impossible.


Assertive US stance on Pakistan may not work out

Some US officials argue that previous attempts at getting Pakistan to crackdown on terrorists have failed and only led to a worsening situation in Afghanistan.

The US faces a tightrope walk on Pakistan as too much pressure and decreased financial aid could push Islamabad closer to China.

In such a situation, the US would lose what little leverage it had on Pakistan.

What about India?

India would want US to crackdown on Pakistan over terror

Like Afghanistan, India too blames Pakistan for sponsoring terrorism in its territory.

A US crackdown on Pakistan on terror would benefit India.

Reports of Trump's plans to crackdown on Pakistan come ahead of Indian PM Narendra Modi's visit to Washington where he hopes to boost Indo-US strategic and economic ties.

In recent times, the US is seen as pivoting away from Pakistan, towards India.

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