In an exclusive interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News, US President Donald Trump seemed to be blaming everyone except his administration for America’s foreign affairs problems. Since the interviewee left no stone unturned, it was no surprise that Pakistan got a special mention. But should Islamabad care anymore at this point?
Trump defended his decision to stop giving military aid to Pakistan, claiming that Islamabad helped Osama Bin Laden to hide out there and that it has done nothing to help the US. “They don’t do a damn thing for us,” Trump said.
Meanwhile, arch-rival India has jumped on the anti-Pakistan bandwagon, accusing Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence of supporting the Sikh separatist Khalistan movement after a recent grenade attack in Amritsar district.
Pakistan’s reaction to these concerns is nothing new, apart from the typical tweets justifiably calling out the US for failing to address problems. Considering recent events such as the release of the Christian woman Asia Bibi, who was accused of blasphemy, bringing the major cities of Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad to a halt thanks to a far-right religious group, Tehreek-E-Labbaik Pakistan, getting deeply involved in an international dispute is a risky option for Pakistan, and fiery debates should be confined to Twitter.
As for Trump’s comments, Pakistan should not pay much attention. Aside from the fact that the US will probably not acknowledge the many deaths that took place in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, and Syria after Washington launched its “war on terror,” despite being reminded again and again. Instead, Pakistan should focus on rebuilding itself and maintain a neutral posture when it comes to international disputes because direct engagement has never proved beneficial for the country’s civilian leaders and security officials.
Considering the war in neighboring Afghanistan and tensions with arch-rival India, Pakistan has a lot to tackle but greater emphasis should be placed on improving conditions in its own backyard before it focuses on what is happening in other countries.
Pakistan has wisely chosen to focus on strengthening its ties with China regardless of what its geopolitical motives are. As long as Pakistan’s interests are considered, it will prove beneficial for Islamabad in the long-run.
Pakistan should try to strengthen its ties with other countries as well. As for the US and India, they are not likely to change their behavior, so the best thing for Pakistan to do right now is to just view them from a neutral perspective rather than engaging with them.
If you think about Trump’s comments, the reality is that things are not working in his favor and he just wants someone to blame. As for India, it is unfortunate that instead of resolving its own issues at home, the government wants to put the blame on Pakistan because it’s a fear mechanism that helps the Indian government shield itself from criticism, at least on the short term.