Washington would be wise to engage the new Pakistani administration to help fight extremism at home and bring about reasonable solutions to regional crises, rather than exacerbate them, says Ann Wright.
By Ann Wright
The relationship between the Trump administration and Pakistan is frosty after the United States cut $330 million in military aid to Pakistan in October over what Washington says is its failure to reign in militant groups operating in Afghanistan.
The Obama administration had also suspended $800 million in aid in 2011 and $350 in military aid in 2016 for the same reasons.
But the U.S. isolates itself from Pakistan at its own peril. With a population of over 202 million, Pakistan has the sixth largest population in the world following China, India, the U.S., Indonesia and Brazil. It is one of nine countries that have developed nuclear weapons, and is a key security player in Afghanistan, Iran, India and China.
During the Cold War Pakistan played a pivotal role for the U.S. that was revived after 9/11 but has since faded.
With the U.S.rebuff, it’s not surprising the new government of Prime Minister Imran Khan, a former cricket star and U.S. critic, has turned to neighbors for help, namely Iran and China. Khan’s first official meeting was with Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister.
While I was in Pakistan two weeks ago speaking at a conference on “The Geopolitics of Knowledge and Emerging World Order” held by the Pakistani National Defense University, Khan again met with Zarif. Khan was also off to China as Beijing’s guest of honor at the First China International Import Expo in Shanghai. The Khan administration is banking on $60 billion in land and sea projects underway with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a link in China’s massive project of the Belt-and-Road Initiative (BRI), otherwise known as the New Silk Road.
The Trump administration has been left on the sidelines—again—in a crucial region where the U.S. is in its 18th year of war on Pakistan’s neighbor, Afghanistan.
As I was in Pakistan from Oct. 31 to Nov. 3, the challenges for the new…