Political and foreign affairs experts in Pakistan do not expect major changes in the U.S. policies under President Donald Trump, but some anticipate a tough time ahead for the country.
The Pakistan-U.S. ties had been tense during former U.S. President Barak Obama’s tenure and last year Washington stopped a 300-million-dollar military aid to Pakistan and suspended the sale of F-16 fighters on subsidized rate.
The United States cited Pakistan’s “lack of cooperation” to take action against the Taliban-linked Haqqani network and to bring the Afghan Taliban to the negotiation table.
“I think the United States will keep on exerting pressure on Pakistan to take action against those who pose threat to U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The country is likely to urge Pakistan either to bring the Afghan Taliban to the table or take action against them,” Sarfaraz Khan, director at Area Study Center in Peshawar University, told Xinhua.
On their part, Pakistani officials insist the Haqqani network has been expelled from the country’s North Waziristan tribal region as the result of major military offensive in 2014. However, U.S. leaders were seemed dissatisfied and pressed Pakistan to “do more”.
A senior Pakistani official, dealing with Afghanistan and was part of many meetings with the American officials, however, said that it is in fact the United States that has harmed diplomatic efforts for peace process in Afghanistan.
He referred to the killing of the Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor in a U.S. drone strike in May last year.
The strike was just three days after a quadrilateral group meeting of Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and the United States in Islamabad called for political negotiations to solve the Afghan problem.
Pakistan’s former ambassador to Afghanistan Rustam Shah Mohmand said he does not expect any major change in the U.S. policies under Trump toward Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“There are indications the United States could come much closer to India as it needs a major partner and India could be fit for it. As the United States goes closer to India, this policy would widen gulf between Pakistan and the United States,” Mohmand told Xinhua.
Pakistani lawmakers are urging Pakistan to adopt independent foreign policies and protect own interests like the United States.
“Pakistan has suffered a lot because of the nature of relationship with the United States. We should review our policies even if Trump, Obama or Bush rules the U.S. or any other leader,” Sajid Nawaz, an opposition member of the parliament said.
“We should adopt independent and aggressive policies rather than looking to others. We should focus on own policies and interests,” Nawaz, who belongs to the second main opposition Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party, told Xinhua.
Rahimullah Yousafzai, a senior Pakistani journalist who writes on security and foreign affairs, said that the whole world has serious concerns about Trump’s approach during his election campaign.
“Trump has not much foreign affairs and he will mainly focus on internal matters. I think, like his predecessors, he would also have complaints about Pakistan regarding Afghanistan,” Yousafzai opined.
The majority in Pakistan were disappointed at some of Trump’s remarks during his media interaction about Pakistan, including his remarks to order the repatriation of a Pakistani doctor, Shakil Afridi, who is accused of helping the U.S. military carry out operation that killed Osama bin Laden.
Afridi was found guilty of carrying out a fake vaccination campaign to get information about Osama bin Laden, who was killed in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad in May 2011. Islamabad was angry with the United States as it was not informed about the unilateral action.
In spite of suspicions expressed by independent analysts about the Trump administration’s possible approach, Pakistan Foreign Ministry insists Trump has “considerable goodwill toward Pakistan.”
“We are looking forward to working with the new administration. We have a long-standing relationship with the United States,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria said at his weekly briefing on Thursday when asked about Pakistan’s expectations and apprehensions about the new U.S. administration. Endit