Pakistan has finally suspended its defense and intelligence cooperation with the United States and cautioned of hanging Air Lines of Communication (ALOCs) and halting Ground Lines of Communications (GLOCs) when and where needed while categorically signaled that Pakistan left the only corridor for the US after its soaring ties with Russia and Iran.
Federal Minister for Defense, Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan categorically said this at a Public Talk on “Contours of Security Environment of Pakistan”, organized by the official think-tank, Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) on Monday – January 9th,2018. In response to a question, Defence Minister said, “wide field of Intelligence cooperation and defense cooperation, [which] we have suspended” while he endorses his cabinet colleague, referring to the Foreign Minister of Pakistan statement made on January 7, [Pakistan alliance with the US over] and said, “my colleague Khuwaja Asif rightly pointed out”.
“But the facilities of ALOCs (Air Lines of Communications) and GLOCs (Ground Lines of Communications) [for the US] are still open”. He further cautioned on GLOCs and ALOCs by saying, “[as I said] it’s a leverage that we use at an appropriate time”. It was just a couple of days back on January 7, 2018 – when Foreign Minister of Pakistan, in an interview with Wall Street Journal (WSJ) termed that following the suspension of military aid to Pakistan, alliance with the United States seems to be coming towards an end. “We do not have any alliance [with the US], this is not how allies behave,” the minister told WSJ.
On the other hand, while talking to Regional Rapport, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan has somewhat same but slightly lighter diplomatic perspective as its spokesperson – Dr. Muhammad Faisal said, Pakistan and the US, trying hard to search common grounds, two sides will soon get to a point of convergence as diplomatic efforts are on.
Tensions between Pakistan and US heightened after President Donald Trump’s New Year tweet. Trump accused Pakistan of ‘lying and deceit’ and equally warned to “do more” against terrorists and their alleged safe havens, in particular, the Haqqani Network. Trump termed US past leadership foolish, who extended Pakistan over $33 billion in aid over the past 15 years” and threatened Pakistan, to cut US aid.
Soon after Trump “do more” and Pakistan’s “no more” response, US suspended more than $2bn of security assistance, in retaliation, Pakistan suspended military and intelligence cooperation while GLOCs, ALOCs and entering in a new regional alliance are the leverages readily available to Pakistan.
Meanwhile, Pakistan clearly understands superpower has more leverage, Voting rights and great influence upon International Monitory Fund (IMF) and World Bank and many other International Financial Institutions (IFIs), threats of infamous travel ban and many more, so it’s in the larger interest of both the countries to move in positive direction particularly in case of Pakistan.
Many former diplomats and analysts believe whatever is happening, though an abnormal US behavior and might be because of existing Trumpism, it also happens before any spring offensive in Afghanistan. Right now, both sides are weighing each other, considering their options and sooner or later step-up towards possible engagement.
Diplomatic sources, privy to the developments, claim that bilateral secret visits are still underway especially from the US, met with Pakistan’s civil and military high-level officials, while both sides exchanged their wish–lists, how to move ahead, with what both consider must be achieved in a due course of time.
Pakistan has asked US to end terrorists safe havens inside Afghanistan, limit Da’esh, handover Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Jamat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al-Alemi (LeJ-AA) and other wanted terrorists and culprits, halt drug and narcotics smuggling, poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, establish writ of Afghan government on ungoverned spaces, create pull factor within Afghanistan for dignified return of Afghan refugees and extend necessary funding to Kabul for effective border management and controls.
In US wish-list, it’s clear that Washington will not go away, decisive action against Haqqani’s remain a core demand, even, if they are occasional visitors disguised as refugees, assistance to Kabul to eliminate hardcore Afghan Taliban factions but still the US not ready to revive Afghan reconciliation process while Pakistan stressed again for a peaceful political solution of Afghan issue.
In the meanwhile, Pakistan’s recent regional engagement bear fruits as China, Iran and Turkey are fully cognizant of the situation. In months to come, if Pakistan and the US will remain to have a deadlock on mutually settled bilateral preferences, a regional alliance will get stronger with Pakistan, Russia, China, Turkey and Iran onboard and clear lines will be drawn at the regional level.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy and position of Regional Rapport.