9/11 ANNIVERSARY: DONALD TRUMP REITERATES RESOLVE TO ELIMINATE TERROR SAFE HAVENS

The article originally appeared on India Today on September 12.

Speaking during the 9/11 Memorial Observance at the Pentagon, US President Donald Trump reiterated his resolve to crack down on terror safe havens. Warning those who shelter terrorists and use terror as a policy tool, Trump warned that the “American forces were relentlessly pursuing and destroying the enemies of all civilized people, like we’d never seen before.”

Remembering the horror of the dark day when multiple terror attacks at the World Trade Centre, the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania sixteen years ago left 2977 dead and changed America and the world forever giving it organized, transnational terror organizations, Trump said that his administration was ensuring that terrorists never again had a safe haven to launch attacks against America.

Terming the attack on September 11, 2001 even worse than the attack on Pearl Harbour as it targeted civilians, Trump reassured American that terrorists have nowhere to hide, “We are making plain to these savage killers that there is no dark corner beyond our reach, no sanctuary beyond our grasp, and nowhere to hide anywhere on this very large Earth.”

REMINDER TO PAKISTAN

This is yet another stinging reminder to nations like Pakistan that harbour terror groups and employ terror as state policy. Trump has named Pakistan directly, on multiple occasions.

While unveiling his government’s Afghanistan centric South Asia policy last month, he had repeated his stand about Pakistan as a safe haven for terrorists, had slammed it for supporting terrorists and had sought to increase India’s role in Afghanistan.

Earlier, Modi-Trump Joint Statement in June called Pakistan a safe haven for terrorists and the term made its way to the US Country Report on Terrorism in July. Trump’s warning to Pakistan tells how miffed he is with the country. While detailing his South Asia policy, Trump slammed Pakistan and warned that the US will no longer be silent about Pakistan’s double-dealings. He demanded that Pakistan’s attitude of doublespeak had to change immediately.

Pakistan was still reeling under the pressure of an increasingly demanding US, the only superpower of the world and a major aid provider to Pakistan, to crack down on terror networks in real and tangible terms, when another powerful bloc of countries, the BRICS, alluded to Pakistan to rein in the terror groups operating from its soil. It was a double whammy for Pakistan because the censure came from a multilateral platform which had its all weather ally China as one of founding members besides India, Russia and Brazil.

The BRICS Declaration, while directly naming Pakistan based terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, said, “Recalling the primary leading role and responsibility of states in preventing and countering terrorism, we stress the necessity to develop international cooperation, in accordance with the principles of international law, including that of sovereign equality of states and non-interference in their internal affairs.” The BRICS Summit was held in the first week of this month in China.

INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE ON PAK TERROR

Increasing international pressure on terror infrastructure in Pakistan has created a sense of panic in the country’s ruling establishment. Though they deny it, their contradicting responses confirm it. First they rejected the BRICS Declaration. Then Pakistan’s Foreign Minister admitted presence of terror groups terming then an embarrassment for his country.

While Pakistan’s Foreign Minister was being realist and honest, its army chief chose to preach the world again when he said that “if Pakistan had not done enough in the war against terror, then no country in the world had done anything.” So it didn’t come as a surprise when Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi today warned the US approach on Pakistan, cutting military aid and sanctioning Pakistani officials would be counter-productive.

©SantoshChaubey

PAKISTAN’S NATIONAL SECURITY COMMITTEE REJECTS TRUMP’S SOUTH ASIA STRATEGY

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Pakistan’s National Security Committee, headed by its prime minister and its president, leader of the opposition, state chief ministers and three services chiefs as other members, has outrightly rejected US President Donald Trump’s South Asia policy which criticised Pakistan heavily for not doing enough and promoting terrorism in Afghanistan in spite of taking US aid money in the name of cracking down on Afghan terror groups like the Haqqani Network and the Taliban operating from Pakistan.

The Pak NSC meeting was held in Islamabad today to discuss Trump’s revamped South Asia policy focusing on Afghanistan. After the meeting, Nafees Zakaria, spokesperson of Pakistan’s foreign ministry, in a series of tweets, said that the NSC outrightly rejected allegations against Pakistan adding that making Pakistan a scapegoat would not help in stabilizing Afghanistan.

NEW US POLICY ON AFGHANISTAN

Under his government’s Afghanistan Policy, Trump has announced several departures from his established stand to withdraw the US from the war-torn South Asian nation. The new US policy on Afghanistan pushes for increasing the number of US troops in Afghanistan and gives the forces free hand to handle insurgents instead of micro-managing them from the Washington. Also, developing a strategic partnership with India is going to be a critical part of new US’ strategy for South Asia in future as per the revamped policy.

Trump has also slammed Pakistan and has warned that the US will no longer be silent about Pakistan’s double-dealings. He has demanded that this Pakistan attitude of doublespeak has to change immediately.

Pakistan is naturally more pained at the prospect of a larger Indian role in Afghanistan which it sees inimical to its interests and the Pak NSC observed that India cannot be a net security provider in the South Asia region it has conflictual relationships with all its neighbours and is pursuing a policy of destabilizing Pakistan from the east and the west, a Radio Pakistan release on the meeting said.

PAKISTAN REPEATS ANTI-INDIA RANT

Repeating the anti-India rant, the Pak committee expressed deep concern at Indian policies inimical to peace in the region including interference in the internal affairs of neighbouring countries and using terrorism as an instrument of state policy.

Pakistan, it seems, is also pained at Trump’s charges of taking the US money while not being accountable for it. While unveiling his new South Asia Policy, Trump had said that “the US has been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that US is fighting.”

The NSC of Pakistan rejected this terming it misleading and instead projected Pakistan as a victim, “The claims of billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan are misleading to the extent that the reimbursements to Pakistan since 2001 only account for part of the cost of ground facilities and air corridors used by the United States for its operations in Afghanistan, rather than any financial aid or assistance.”

Well, that is a plain lie. According to a Reuters report, since 2011, Pakistan has received over $15 Billion in US aid including over $5 Billion in economic assistance.

Then contradicting itself, it went on to say that instead of any financial or material assistance, there should be understanding and recognition of Pakistan’s efforts, contributions and sacrifice of thousands of Pakistanis and claimed that Pakistan has suffered over 120 billion US dollars of economic losses due to terrorism.

Pakistan also refuted Trump’s allegations of Pakistan being a safe haven for terrorists and instead blamed Afghanistan for having safe terror havens and demanded effective and immediate US military efforts to eliminate sanctuaries harbouring terrorists and miscreants on the Afghan soil including those responsible for fomenting terror in Pakistan.

©SantoshChaubey