WASHINGTON: The Trump administration’s first foreign policy — announced on Monday — urges Pakistan to demonstrate that it’s a “responsible steward” of its nuclear assets and warns that the fear of a nuclear conflict with India remains a key concern in Washington.
The new policy also insists that Pakistan take action against militants on its soil and intensify its counterterrorism efforts if it wants to continue its partnership with the United States.
“The United States will also encourage Pakistan to continue demonstrating that it is a responsible steward of its nuclear assets,” says an official copy of the new policy released by the White House.
“The prospect for an Indo-Pakistani military conflict that could lead to a nuclear exchange remains a key concern requiring consistent diplomatic attention,” it warns.
In a reference to the alleged presence of militant hideouts inside Fata, the Trump administration says: “We will insist that Pakistan take decisive action against militant and terrorist groups operating from its soil” as the United States “continues to face threats from transnational terrorists and militants operating from within Pakistan.”
Reminding Islamabad that “no partnership can survive a country’s support for militants and terrorists,” the Trump administration adds: “We will press Pakistan to intensify its counter-terrorism efforts, who target a partner’s own service members and officials.”
The document also tells Islamabad that US interests in the region include countering terrorist threats that impact the security of the US homeland and its allies.
The US also wants to prevent “cross-border terrorism that raises the prospect of military and nuclear tensions,” adds the document while pledging to prevent “nuclear weapons, technology, and materials from falling into the hands of terrorists.”
The document says that the Trump administration seeks an American presence in the region, which is proportionate to threats to the homeland and US allies.
“We seek a Pakistan that is not engaged in destabilizing behavior and a stable and self-reliant Afghanistan,” says the document, adding that US interests in Pakistan are not confined to terrorism alone.
“In Pakistan, we will build trade and investment ties as security improves and as Pakistan demonstrates that it will assist the United States in our counter-terrorism goals,” it adds.
The new policy also stresses US commitment to supporting the Afghan government and security forces in their fight against the Taliban, Al Qaeda, ISIS, and other terrorists.
“We will bolster the fighting strength of the Afghan security forces to convince the Taliban that they cannot win on the battlefield and to set the conditions for diplomatic efforts to achieve enduring peace,” it says.
The new strategy also promises to continue promoting anti-corruption reform in Afghanistan to increase the legitimacy of its government and reduce the appeal of violent extremist organizations.
The document also pledges to help South Asian nations in dealing with a looming threat from China. “We will help South Asian nations maintain their sovereign as China increases its influence in the region,” it says.
The new policy relies heavily on India for achieving these targets. “We will deepen our strategic partnership with India and support its leadership role in Indian Ocean security and throughout the broader region,” it says.
“We will encourage the economic integration of Central and South Asia to promote prosperity and economic linkages that will bolster connectivity and trade. And we will encourage India to increase its economic assistance in the region.”
The Trump administration says that in Central Asia, it seeks states that are resilient against domination by rival powers, are resistant to becoming jihadist safe havens, and prioritize reforms. “We will work with the Central Asian states to guarantee access to the region to support our counterterrorism efforts,” it adds.
Published in Dawn, December 19th, 2017