Zubin Bhatnagar writes: US Secretary of Defense, James Mattis has commended the role Pakistan Army has played in battling the scourge of terrorism…..Is it a reflection of Pak’s indispensability in US war against terrorism in Afghanistan or a failure of India’s diplomacy?
The US Secretary of Defense, James Mattis has commended the sacriﬁces and resilience of the people and armed forces of Pakistan, and appreciated the role Pakistan Army has played in battling the scourge of terrorism; its role in fighting militants in FATA and recent support for efforts to defeat ISIS-Khorasan Province. In the telephonic conversation both the Pak Army Chief and US Secretary of Defense reaffirmed the importance of the bilateral military-to-military relationship, and highlighted the importance of continuing to work together on counter-terrorism and regional stability. They also agreed on continued engagement at multiple levels[i].
In a similar conversation between the US Secretary of Defense and India’s Defense Minister Mr Parrikar both affirmed to sustain momentum on key bilateral Defense efforts to include defense technology and trade initiative; build upon the tremendous progress made in bilateral Defense cooperation made in recent years; underscoring the strategic importance of US-India relationship and India’s role in advancing global peace and security[ii].
The views of Trump administration on Islamic fundamentalism and its impact on global war on terrorism are well known. It was expected that the new administration will adopt a hard stance against Pakistan’s duplicity and its policy of state sponsored terrorism. However, Trump administration plans to offer incentives to Pakistan to cooperate with the US on critical issues[iii].
Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan’s ongoing instability is a well-known fact. It continues to punch much below its weight when it comes to dismantling of terrorist networks and infrastructure on its side of the Durand line. When it comes to India it continues with its policy of state sponsored terrorism in Kashmir. Afghanistan and Kashmir imbroglio threaten the peace and stability in South Asia and interestingly have Pakistan as the common perpetrator. However, when it comes to catching the bull by the horns and impose crippling sanctions to force Pakistan to shut down its ‘Jihad Factory’; US somehow lacks the resolve. This is surprising as it has cost the US, lives of thousands of its soldiers in Afghanistan whereas the real enemy remained elusive. Moreover, though the US is keen to improve its cooperation with India in advancing global peace and stability it continues to turn a blind eye towards India’s sensitivities.Is it a reflection of Pak’s indispensability in US war against terrorism in Afghanistan or a failure of India’s diplomacy?
The present geopolitical environment in South Asia, which is witnessing a resurgence of Taliban in Afghanistan and increased terrorism in Kashmir both abetted by Pakistan, dictates a change in America’s strategy in South Asia. If the US is serious in its global war against terrorism; it is but an imperative that it reviews its strategy in dealing with Pakistan, ‘the real enemy’ in the overall imbroglio.