Fair-weather friend makes a call
No one knows exactly what is on the Trump administration’s mind except for what is already out through President Trump’s twitter account. Besides the State Department has reached out to countries in the region that might play a role in the future developments. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reached out to the Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa. Gen Bajwa advised restraint which is a sane advice to give.
Considering the sensitivities involved the ISPR sent out a very measured statement on what transpired in the call. The very next day, the US announced to resume the military training programme for Pakistan. This was a regular feature for last decade but was stopped last year in the wake of certain misunderstandings between the two countries. One may recall the new year tweet by President Trump in 2018 when all military aid worth $2billion was stopped unless Pakistan delivered on its promises.
Later when the US needed to get out of Afghanistan it looked to use Pakistan’s good offices to prevail upon Taliban to come to the negotiation table. Pakistan, a chief beneficiary of peace in the region, did whatever it could and now the US and the Taliban are closer to peace deal ever than before. Well the same has been acknowledged by the US as they resumed the training programme. It is a positive gesture and shall help bridge the gap that exists between the two countries at the military and diplomatic relation levels. All the same, the timing of this ‘carrot’ is significant. It came just a day after the US carried out a totally unnecessary attack that killed Iran’s top point man. Does it expect us to take sides in this war? If history is any witness, the US has never been a dependable ally and thought nothing of walking away from a conflict leaving its allies to clean up the mess. Besides the incontrovertible fact that Iran, party to the conflict, is our neighbour and a brother Muslim country, the war, if it breaks out, shall not be limited to one country. Given that Iran has influence in the whole of the Middle East and has the ability to strike at will, all stakeholder in the country need a well thought out response to this fast developing situation.