Killing of US soldier stiffens Trump’s resolve on Pakistan

By Arul Louis,

New York : Angered by the killing of an American soldier by terrorists in Afghanistan, US President Donald Trump let off the first Twitter salvo of 2018 bringing into sharp focus Washington’s $33-billion problem of Pakistan and Islamabad’s ties to terror and anti-American activities.

Trump’s warning also tests the limits of Washington’s influence and power to make Islamabad give up its use of terrorists as proxy.

“No more,” Trump ended his New Year morning tweet on Pakistan that also took a swipe at his predecessors, Barack Obama and George W. Bush, for “foolishly” aiding Islamabad which thinks of US leaders as “fools”.

“They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help,” he tweeted, accusing Islamabad of lies and deceit.

On Tuesday, the administration’s hawk, Permanent UN Representative Nikki Haley, emphasised Trump’s resolve.

“The President is willing to go to great lengths to stop all funding for Pakistan if they continue to harbour and support terrorism,” she declared.

If the timing of his 6.12 a.m. tweet on New Year’s Day while the country was barely awake after the midnight celebrations seemed a puzzle, the provocation was revealed later when the US commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, announced the death of the soldier in Nangarhar province, which borders Pakistan.

Four other soldiers were injured in the attack.

Trump’s “No more” declaration is a restatement of what was already underway — in August the administration had notified Congress that it was withholding $225 million in military aid to Pakistan.

Yet, as with all Trump’s actions, it is a transactional ploy in the style of a businessman and “no more” isn’t the final, irrevocable mandate it would appear.

Trump had stepped back once already. In August, he said Pakistan has “much to lose” by harbouring terrorists and his administration announced it was holding back aid.

But in October after Pakistanis got a US citizen released from Haqqani captivity, Trump tweeted: “Starting to develop much better relations with Pakistan and its leaders. I want to thank them for their cooperation on many fronts.”

Trump, who is raising troop levels in Afghanistan, is caught between two needs: Preventing terrorist attacks on US personnel, especially from Islamabad’s proxies, while keeping the sea-based supply lines to landlocked Afghanistan open.

Pakistan also borders Trump’s great foe, Iran, which he took on in his very next tweet.

Therefore, Islamabad also has bargaining chips and it will come down to how much each side can give up to keep the uneasy relationship going.

In one of the first responses to Trump’s tweet, Islamabad banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) leader Hafiz Saeed’s charitable organisation, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, from collecting donations. But the mastermind of the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai continues to operate freely in Pakistan in defiance of the US, which has put a $10 million bounty on him.

The other part of the Trump strategy brings India into play. He has called for a greater role for India in Afghanistan — but mostly as an aid-giver. Ironically, India has been able to fulfil this role only through the Iranian Chabahar Port.

The greater part of the regional role Trump sees for India is in the Indo-Pacific region as a counterweight to China.

That brings China into both the aid and strategic equations with Pakistan that also faces off India, with which Beijing’s relationships are often tense.

China is emerging as the main economic power in Pakistan through aid, loans and investments.

Pakistan is the keystone of Beijing’s ambitious One Belt, One Road (OBOR) plan to build a link all the way to Europe. A part of that is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which aims to grow Pakistan’s economy through several billion dollars of investments and aid in several sectors, ranging from infrastructure and irrigation to industry and agriculture.

To that extent, Pakistan is becoming less dependent on the US. But mostly the US aid has been mostly unconditional, geared to the military and giving access to technologically advanced armaments.

In contrast, China’s aid comes at a future cost as a lot of it is in the form of loans and investments.

The OBOR and CPEC require protection from terrorists and stability. While this would require Pakistan to control terrorism domestically, it could also suit Beijing to divert terrorists’ attention to India and to a lesser extent to Afghanistan.

Simultaneously, China is trying to assume a higher profile in Afghanistan, which could benefit Pakistan.

Last month, Foreign Ministers Salahuddin Rabbani of Afghanistan, Khawaja Asif of Pakistan and Wang Yi of China met in Beijing. Afghanistan’s Defence Minister Tariq Shah Bahrami also went to Beijing.

(Arul Louis can be reached at


Also read-


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Stories

Gulf Cooperation Council, Pakistan sign free trade agreement

ANKARA : The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) said Thursday that it signed a free trade agreement with Pakistan. GCC Secretary-General Jasem al-Budaiwi and Pakistani Commerce...

Pakistan people don’t regard us as enemy: Mani Shankar Aiyar

NEW DELHI : Batting for resumption of dialogue with Pakistan, diplomat-turned-politician Mani Shankar Aiyar says India won’t be able to take its due lace...

Jamaat-e-Islami Hind condemns the attack on Christians and the burning of Churches in Pakistan

By Muslim Mirror Network New Delhi : Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) has condemned the attack on Christians and the burning of Churches in Pakistan. In a...

Imran Khan warns of Pakistan’s disintegration

ISLAMABAD : Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief and former Prime Minister Imran Khan has accused the ruling coalition of hatching a conspiracy to pit the...

EU’s foreign policy chief regrets resumption of attack on Gaza, urges Israel to respect laws of war

LONDON : The EU's foreign policy chief on Saturday expressed "regret" over the resumption of Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip, emphasizing Tel Aviv's...

As BJP leads in 3 states, INDIA bloc schedules meet to strategize for LS polls

New Delhi : Leaders of the opposition INDIA bloc will meet at Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge’s residence in Delhi on December 6 to chalk...

Student’s kin threaten Bihar school for ordering removal of hijabs inside classrooms

Sheikhpura : A government school in Bihar has received threats from family members of female students who were asked by teachers to take off...

Thousands across Europe protest Israel, demand cease-fire in Gaza

PARIS/MADRID/VIENNA/ROME : Thousands took to the streets in European capitals Saturday to protest Israeli attacks and demand a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip. Demonstrators once...

BSP MP Danish Ali challenges Ethics Committee’s “Cash-for-Query” report, calls for deletion of “unwarranted remarks”

BSP MP Danish Ali has raised objections to the upcoming report of the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee, which recommends the expulsion of Trinamool Congress...

Israeli columnist Ari Shavit predicts the fall of Israel very soon

By Latheef Farook Today Israel  is badly in need of an exit  strategy to get out of Gaza. However  not only Israel even  United States...

Muslim woman moves HC after Delhi cops ‘forcibly’ detain her without veil

New Delhi : The Delhi High Court has sought the stand of the city police on a petition by a ‘purdahnashin’ (veiled) Muslim woman...

Gaza ‘again most dangerous’ place to be child: UNICEF

WASHINGTON : The Gaza Strip is the "most dangerous place" in the world to be a child, a UN official said on Friday. "Today, Gaza...

73 Palestinian journalists killed by Israeli army in Gaza since Oct. 7: Gaza authorities

GAZA CITY, Palestine : The death toll of Palestinian journalists by the Israeli army since Oct. 7 has risen to 73, authorities in Gaza...

Delhi HC refuses to entertain pleas seeking Uniform Civil Code

New Delhi : The Delhi High Court Friday refused to entertain a batch of petitions seeking a Uniform Civil Code (UCC), saying the Supreme Court...

Unravelling the disinformation machine: How the Hamas-Israel war became a tool for pre-election fear-mongering?

By Mohd Ziyaullah Khan, Nagpur Overview  In the realm of contemporary politics, the utilisation of disinformation has become a potent tool for shaping narratives, influencing public...

Delhi Police gives NOC for holding ‘Muslim Mahapanchayat’ at Ramlila

New Delhi : The city police told the Delhi High Court on Friday they have granted permission to Mission Save Constitution, an organisation that...

Bihar teeming with illegal madrasas, mosques, says Union min, JDU hits back

Patna : Union Minister Giriraj Singh on Friday claimed that Bihar was teeming with “illegal” madrasas and mosques which posed a grave threat to...

Kolkata cops summon 12 BJP MLAs over ‘disrespect’ to National Anthem

Kolkata : Kolkata Police on Friday issued summons to 12 BJP MLAs for questioning in connection with complaints filed against them for disrespecting the National...

Israel has arrested 3,390 Palestinians in West Bank since Oct. 7: NGOs

RAMALLAH, Palestine : Israeli forces have detained 3,390 Palestinians in raids across the occupied West Bank since Oct. 7, including 260 during humanitarian pauses,...