NEW YORK: Amid heightened US-Pakistan tensions, a leading American newspaper Saturday underlined Pakistan’s strategic importance and urged President Donald Trump to explore whether more “constructive cooperation” with the South Asian country was still possible.
In an editorial, The New York Times repeated U. S. allegations about Pakistan’s ties to some extremist groups, but regretted President Trump’s “bombast and the precipitous” way to announce his decision aid to suspend aid to Pakistan.
Not only that, the Times said there were doubts whether Trump has a serious plan for managing the ramifications of this move.
“Almost every military flight into Afghanistan goes through Pakistani airspace. Most supplies travel along Pakistani roads and rails,” the editorial said.
“Pakistan can shut down American access at any moment, and some Pakistani officials are threatening to do just that. ”
The editorial said, “Pakistan could also ally more closely with China, which is already investing in major new infrastructure projects and expanding its international leadership at America’s expense, and be more hard-line in its rivalry with India. Indeed, China could once again be the beneficiary of a Trump decision estranging the United States from long-time partners. ”
“But while, to some extent, Mr. Trump has a real point, he has given no assurance that he would not make matters worse. ”
Pointing out that Pakistan sided with the United States in the aftermath of 9/11, but then the Times claimed it played “a double game”—an accusation Islamabad denies.
“In 2014, Pakistan’s army finally mounted a serious military campaign against the Pakistani Taliban, which threatens the Pakistani state, and suffered many casualties. ” But, the Times said, Pakistani security services continued to support the Haqqani network.
“But President Trump cannot afford to walk away from Pakistan, which has often provided vital intelligence and has the world’s fastest-growing nuclear arsenal,” the editorial said.
“Whether Pakistan will cooperate after the aid freeze remains to be seen. Initially, some Pakistani officials reacted harshly to the announcement, which came as a surprise, but on Friday, a Foreign Ministry statement talked about the need for mutual respect and patience as the two countries address common threats.
“Mr. Trump could marshal other diplomatic tools, to see if more constructive cooperation with Pakistan is possible. One idea would be to harness his new friendships with the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to shut down Haqqani and other Taliban fund-raising efforts in the Persian Gulf.
“This would, of course, require quiet negotiations, not shouting,” the Times added.