Trump eyes hardening line toward Pakistan after Afghan war review

  • Tuesday 20, June 2017 in 9:52 PM
  • U.S. President Donald Trump
Sharjah 24 – Reuters: President Donald Trump's administration is exploring hardening its approach toward Pakistan to crack down on Pakistan-based militants launching attacks in neighbouring Afghanistan, two U.S. officials tell Reuters.
Potential Trump administration responses being discussed include expanding U.S. drone strikes, redirecting or withholding some aid to Pakistan and perhaps eventually downgrading Pakistan's status as a major non-NATO ally, the two officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
 
Other U.S. officials are skeptical of the prospects for success, arguing that years of previous U.S. efforts to curb Pakistan's support for militant groups have failed, and that already strengthening U.S. ties to India, Pakistan's arch-enemy, undermine chances of a breakthrough with Islamabad.
 
U.S. officials say generally they seek greater cooperation with Pakistan, not a rupture in ties, once the administration finishes a regional review, due by mid-July, of the strategy guiding the 16-year-old war in Afghanistan.
 
The discussions include officials from across the Trump administration, including the White House and the Defense Department, both of which declined comment on the review before its completion.
 
Precise actions have yet to be decided.
 
"The United States and Pakistan continue to partner on a range of national security issues," Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump said.
 
But Pakistan's embassy in Washington warned against "scapegoating" Pakistan to explain the stalemate in Afghanistan, pointing instead to Afghanistan's own troubled internal dynamics. It also noted past Pakistani efforts to battle militants and expressed willingness to work with the United States and Afghanistan on border management.
 
"Singling out Pakistan and pinning the entire blame on Pakistan for the situation in Afghanistan is neither fair nor accurate, nor is it borne out by the ground realities," said Abid Saeed, press minister at the embassy.