Washington: A top-notch American foreign policy expert, amid all the increased India-Pakistan tension on Kashmir and the ongoing Afghan peace talks, cautioned US President Trump against any strategic partnership with Pakistan and moving away from the Indian government.
President of the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard N Hass, wrote in an op-ed last week, “The US would be unwise to turn to Pakistan as a strategic partner.”
In competition with arch-rival India, Pakistan sees the Kabul government as vital to its security, Hass wrote in his op-ed which was first published by Project Syndicate and later, on the CFR website.
“There is little reason to believe that the military and intelligence services, which continue to run Pakistan, will rein in the Taliban or rule out terrorism,” Hass said.
“Equally, the US would be unwise to alienate India. Yes, India has a tradition of protectionist trade policies and often frustrates US policymakers with its reluctance to cooperate fully on strategic issues,” the foreign policy expert wrote.
Soon to surpass China in being the world’s most populous country, democratic India will boast the world’s fifth-largest economy, which is a good long-term bet for Trump, he added.
“It is a natural partner to help balance China. India has rejected participation in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, whereas Pakistan, struggling economically, has embraced it,” Hass said.
It would be unwise of Trump, according to the top American scholar, to race for the exits from Afghanistan.
Hass claimed that peace talks with the Taliban mostly look like a means to extract US forces from the country. He also added that the process is not a basis for peace but a reminiscent of Vietnam, where a 1973 agreement between the US and North Vietnam provided a pretext for American withdrawal from the South.
Optimistic at best, fanciful at worst, is what Hass observed the notion of a coalition government between the current government and the Taliban.
“Instead of embracing fantasy, the US should continue to keep a modest number of troops in Afghanistan to ensure the government survives and the country does not again become a terrorist haven. What is required is an endurance strategy, not an exit strategy, based on local conditions, not political calendars. As has long been the case, south Asia is at best a region to be managed, not a problem to be solved,” he said.