Why trump is good for Pakistan

Many in west argue, Pakistan is at best a sometimes-ally when it comes to counterterrorism. But Pakistan is equally taken as an enemy, a state sponsor of terrorism a host to anti-Afghan, anti-Indian, anti-west jihadi militants. It is widely alleged that Pakistan’s military and intelligence services prefer to maintain friendly ties with some terrorists for two reasons. For Pakistan’s strategists, they are useful proxies to destabilise Pakistan’s enemy neighbours and but they are also be deadly adversaries if confronted head-on.

Tens of billions of American dollars with the carrots and sticks American approach –have clearly not succeeded in changing Pakistan’s core strategic calculations.

It’s true that the only time that Pakistan has changed its strategic approach in any significant way was immediately after 9/11, when fear of a vengeful America led then-President Pervez Musharraf to cooperate on a variety of counter terror operations that netted top Al-Qaeda leaders on Pakistan’s soil and to acquiesce, at least for several years, to an overthrow of Pakistan’s favoured Taliban regime in Afghanistan. As Musharraf has claimed in his memoir, he and other top Pakistani generals feared that unless they bowed to the Bush administration’s demands, they would be “bombed back to the stone ages” or, more likely, would suffer the strategic consequences of seeing the United States align with India.

Trump’s apparent “irrationality” could conceivably make American threats to Pakistan far more effective. One of the only sure things we know about upcoming policy is that he means to get tough against “radical Islamic terrorists.” Trump may be uniquely well positioned to deliver a credible ultimatum to Pakistan: “Begin a full-scale, verifiable, and rapid offensive against all terrorist groups on Pakistani soil, or else.”

None of this is to suggest that Pakistan will simply cave to Washington’s demands. It’s true that whatever happens, Pakistan will remain a nuclear-armed state of 200 million people with increasingly close ties to China. But at least this way, Pakistan could arrest or kill some top terrorist leader to demonstrate the value of cooperation, while suggesting that coercive ultimatums are really unnecessary.

1815 hours
Saturday 12 November 2016

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