Beyond the Tweet
Despite bringing cheer, Trump’s off-hand decision could destabilise regional dynamics of the Subcontinent, explains Amna Mirza.
The year 2018 began with netizens and other world players bearing witness to the US blocking $225 million military aid to Pakistan. It came a few hours after President Trump's tweet where he slammed the nation for providing a safe haven to terrorists. Interestingly, this tweet was backed by words where the United States demonetised Pakistan by cutting off dollars and instead of letting it be a monologue, Pakistan, too, hit back by pointing fingers at the US.
US's strategic break away from Pakistan could be motivated for larger realignment in the light of regional dynamics and geopolitics. Pakistan Prime Minister met their army chief and there are speculations about further US backlash—could be directed to stifling IMF bailouts.
Earlier, the US paved way for $700 million reimbursements to Pakistan for supporting the US in Afghanistan and then stopped aid of $255 million—only to realise in the end that Pakistan is becoming the dominion state of China—with the easy felicitation of bilateral trade and investment activities with Chinese currency. This tirade of an insulting attack followed by blistering answers did bring to the surface the contradictions within geopolitics. The American tectonic shift towards India may also witness parallel military cooperation between Islamabad and Beijing. In this realist zero-sum games, the solution for problems like terrorism, rise of extremism amongst others surely goes for a duck.
Without an alternative base, the United States is bereft of choices where it may be compelled to continue work with Pakistan--if it wants to remain engaged in Afghanistan. Further, any solution to the crisis in Afghanistan or larger issues of world terrorism cannot be treated by threats of annihilation. The problems of global politics are much more compound requiring engagement with trust to pacify the evil storm on a long-term basis. The possibility of this sabotage of camaraderie enabling Pakistan to get the Taliban on a negotiating forum by winning over its trust also looks bright.
There is a clamour in Pakistan civil society that their country needs better relations with its neighbours like Afghanistan, Iran, India, and China and therefore, it must aptly reject Trump. There is an eerie realisation that Pakistan has sacrificed greater than what it has received on this bandwagon with the United States where it was at the forefront of its erstwhile ally in peacekeeping operations.
World politics cannot be situated under the ambit of declarations that lack sound reasoning. When Pakistan is nuclear armed and the United States wants to destabilise Pakistan—there is a lack of rationalisation of the potential consequences of its armed nuclear weapons. South Asia and the Indian Ocean Region, too, feel the churnings – the question of deliberating stability lies with the various stakeholders like India, China, and Russia. It is clear that complexities of Pakistan's problems are way beyond comprehension. There is also a tacit understanding of US wooing Uzbekistan. Within this mosaic, one foregone conclusion is that the United States is systematically damaging its value as an ally.
The irony for the United States is that only Pakistan can save, impact, or harm it in Afghanistan. No wonder there are critics who are pointing fingers towards this grave scenario to sense a degree of gloom in President Trump's tweet. Any sonorous word or action that fails to generate the requisite impact may be rather counterproductive. Also, what is further casting doubt is that Pakistan is under severe internal crisis which is magnified by its external forays.
Dealing with extremist activities cannot gloss over the fact that it is fighting the largest inland war against terrorism. Coercive diplomacy by painting the nation in negative colours or suspension of security assistance from the Trump Administration may not actually do anything other than making it retaliate or look for another ally.
Time shall be better able to answer whether it is Pakistan that dumps Trump or Pakistan which is Trumped. Terrorism must be condemned in the severest of terms. The negation of one or build up of another alliance is never the right way for diplomatic cables. India too should sense this that instead of celebrating Trump's message, the answer for management of its troublesome neighbour has to come by its own engagement.
In the quest of heightened efforts to track terrorist financiers, a morally and intellectually weak proposal was put up in the form of President Trump's Tweet. An increase in the flow of global forces was intended to lower the barriers to communication. The 'off-the-cuff comments' put a question mark on the rationality of humanity to tap the right tenor of the process of globalisation.
What is amusing is that headline gaining debacles were often considered hallmark. The global times definitely cuts through this notion, as we witness world leaders stoking conflicts by the use of ideas and words that are ill-considered. It is not to say that one should not publish on such platforms but one cannot ignore the consequences of such acts where the benefits of communication are discounted by its potential costs.
( Dr Amna Mirza is Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Delhi. The views expressed are strictly personal)