Trump must get tough with Pak­istan

Fu­ture fi­nan­cial aid should de­pend on gen­uine op­po­si­tion to ter­ror­ists

The Washington Times Daily - - OPINION - By Ful­vio Mar­tu­sciello Ful­vio Mar­tu­sciello is an Ital­ian Euro­pean Peo­ple’s Party mem­ber of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment.

Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump made head­lines after Pak­istani of­fi­cials re­leased de­tails of his phone call with Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif. While the re­ported kind words ex­changed could be in­ter­preted as the be­gin­ning of a re­newed friend­ship be­tween the two coun­tries, Is­lam­abad’s thirst for head­lines alone have made this less likely. More im­por­tantly, in the past Mr. Trump has stressed the se­cu­rity chal­lenges as­so­ci­ated with Pak­istan and its po­ten­tial global reach.

The new ad­min­is­tra­tion is not alone in hav­ing mixed feel­ings. Right­fully so, Wash­ing­ton’s pa­tience has been show­ing signs of wear­ing thin as Pak­istan, a mil­i­tary-run coun­try with nu­clear weapons, has not been co­op­er­a­tive, par­tic­u­larly in the fight against ter­ror­ism. In­deed, there is ev­i­dence of am­bigu­ous re­la­tions be­tween Is­lam­abad and sev­eral ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions. Pak­istan is known as a safe haven for ter­ror­ists such as Osama bin Laden and for sup­port­ing ter­ror­ists groups such al Qaeda, the Tal­iban and the Haqqani Net­work. Is­lam­abad’s at­ti­tude re­gard­ing ter­ror­ism within its bor­ders is un­ac­cept­able — and a ma­jor source of con­cern for both the United States and Europe.

In this con­text, it is es­sen­tial to re­mem­ber that the United States and the EU rep­re­sent the bulk of the fi­nan­cial aid and trade with Pak­istan. Al­though Pak­istan has hap­pily re­ceived nu­mer­ous types of aid from both sides of the At­lantic, re­la­tions have of­ten been am­biva­lent, and West­ern se­cu­rity and hu­man rights con­cerns — most cer­tainly jus­ti­fied — are per­ceived as an an­noy­ance. Pak­istan is even sus­pected of mis­us­ing of mil­i­tary equip­ment pro­vided by the United States. The U.S. alone is to trans­fer close to $1 bil­lion to Pak­istan in 2017, giv­ing Wash­ing­ton con­sid­er­able lever­age over Is­lam­abad — lever­age that must now be used.

Over the years Pak­istan has failed to live up to its prom­ises to the United States, whether on pro­vid­ing troops for the U.S. fight against com­mu­nist forces in the days of the Cold War or against al Qaeda, the Tal­iban and the Haqqani Net­work in present times. What’s even worse: Large chunks of fund­ing to Pak­istan found its way to arm ji­hadi groups, the same groups that have been re­spon­si­ble for killing of NATO sol­diers in Afghanistan.

What is needed go­ing for­ward is a new ap­proach to Pak­istan — one that rec­og­nizes the need to en­gage with Pak­istan on cer­tain key se­cu­rity is­sues while also ap­ply­ing stronger con­di­tions on Is­lam­abad to per­form in ways that are not coun­ter­pro­duc­tive to th­ese ob­jec­tives in the first place. The in­com­ing Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion and Congress should ac­cord­ingly take a closer look at U.S. eco­nomic and mil­i­tary as­sis­tance to Pak­istan, be­gin­ning with the fun­da­men­tal ques­tion: Does this as­sis­tance to Pak­istan serve U.S. na­tional in­ter­ests or not? Equally im­por­tant is that any such re­assess­ment of U.S. pol­icy to Pak­istan takes place in close co­or­di­na­tion with Amer­ica’s Euro­pean al­lies. Should Pak­istan fail to com­ply and be­come trans­par­ent, both the U.S. and the EU need to con­sider tak­ing ap­pro­pri­ate joint trans-At­lantic ac­tions, in­clud­ing re­duc­ing or with­draw­ing funds or boy­cotting in­ap­pro­pri­ate arms sales.

Ter­ror­ism is a se­ri­ous threat that af­fects both Amer­ica and Europe. Both sides of the At­lantic cer­tainly rec­og­nize the im­por­tance of fight­ing ter­ror­ism as we are see­ing now with the Um­brella Agree­ment — a land­mark deal strength­en­ing the co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Wash­ing­ton and Brus­sels in the fight against ter­ror­ism by trans­fer­ring trans-At­lantic crim­i­nal data.

Both the United States and the Euro­pean Union have lever­age over Is­lam­abad, and they should use it in a co­or­di­nated fash­ion to dis­man­tle ter­ror­ist net­works in­side Pak­istan and to guar­an­tee re­gional sta­bil­ity in South Asia. As many of the con­cerns and in­ter­ests are shared across the At­lantic, namely with NATO, co­op­er­a­tion with Euro­pean coun­ter­parts should be con­sid­ered by es­tab­lish­ing a trans-At­lantic di­a­logue on global coun­tert­er­ror­ism.

Large chunks of fund­ing to Pak­istan found its way to arm ji­hadi groups, the same groups that have been re­spon­si­ble for killing of NATO sol­diers in Afghanistan.

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