Pakistan’s alliance with US over after aid suspension, says Khawaja Asif
ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif has said that he see the alliance with the United States as over after Washington suspended security-related assistance to Pakistan.
“We do not have any alliance” with the US,” said Asif said in an interview on Friday with the Wall Street Journal. “This is not how allies behave.”
The foreign minister’s statement comes among increasingly tense exchange in the past week between the two countries, but relations have frayed but not being broken to several differences.
Pakistan fears a full break could lead the US to apply its leverage in international forums to hurt the country’s economy, which jettisoning support by US for a longtime ally in a strategic location isn’t easy.
According to WSJ, Pakistan is concerned about the growing closeness with archenemy India, with the Trump administration inviting it to take a bigger role in Afghanistan.
This could push Pakistan to pullback from cooperating with US and push further close to China, and could also affect the complicated war in Afghanistan.
BMI Research, an economic-analysis firm based in London, said in a report said that the US suspension of aid “will likely accelerate Pakistan’s geopolitical drift towards China.”
Khawaja Asif further said Pakistan made a “huge mistake” in 2001 by joining the US-led war in Afghanistan, which he said led to backlash on Pakistan.
Pakistan has maintained that it fought the war on terrorism from its own resources and has rendered tremendous sacrifices and could manage without US aid. Both sides have avoided inflammatory moves that could permanently damage their interests.
“We have relative calm in Pakistan at the moment,” Khawaja Asif said. “But if we go against these people (Afghan insurgents), then the war will again be fought on our soil, which will suit the Americans.”
The WSJ states Pakistan is not satisfied with US policy and wants to Indian role in Afghanistan reduced to a skeleton presence, and wants coalition and Afghan forces to fight militants based in Afghanistan.
Khawaja Asif said that Pakistan is “not alone” and had options for other allies. Last year, He rallied China, Iran, Russia and Turkey behind Pakistan’s strategy for Afghanistan, which centers on peace talks with the Taliban instead of more fighting.
The estrangement of Pakistan and the US has large geopolitical dynamics. US has been getting much closer to India over the last decade, while Pakistan has embraced China.