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Pakistan warns US of backlash of potential Afghan offensive

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According to sources, the United States plans on launching a two pronged offensive against the Taliban in Afghanistan that would force them to join the Afghan peace process at Kabul’s term. Pakistan warned the US that any major operation against the Taliban, if ended in failure, would have dire consequences to the whole region.

Pakistan does not disagree with the operation itself but fears that the blowback of the operation would be severe for the region, especially Pakistan. US Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, while briefing on a new strategy said that they’ve been working with Pakistan for a South Asian strategy, and that’s how they do things.

Pakistan believes that dialogue is the only solution to the Taliban problem. Military operations are yet to bear any fruit so the Pakistani stance appears to be the rational one.

He also showed confidence in the Pakistan leadership stating that Pakistan is capable of assisting us and they are working together. US military is in coordination with their Pakistani military counterparts, ‘I think, yesterday Gen Joseph Votel was on the phone with Gen Bajwa, the chief of the army staff. And we’ll continue to coordinate this,’ he said.

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Acknowledging Pakistan’s efforts in the war against terror, Mattis said, ‘Pakistan has lost more troops total than all of NATO coalition combined in the fight against them. But we’ve had disagreements, strong disagreements on some issues, and we’re working [on] those’. He also admitted that the leadership of both nations is in talks with each other. The US has been pressing Pakistan to do more against the terrorists on its soil.

Groups like Haqqani network regroup and rejuvenate their strength on Pakistani soil, and launch counterattacks in Afghanistan, according to the US. The relationship between the US and Pakistan came to a critical juncture when President Trump made a tweet on New Years day, accusing Pakistan of ‘lies and deceit’ and of harboring terrorists on its soil.

The rumours about a US operation add more weight to this argument. Pakistan is worried about a possible US offensive because in the past, Pakistan is the one who suffered greatly for any military exercises in Afghanistan

The US has since suspended all military assistance to Pakistan, which amounts to almost 2 billion dollars. Leaders of countries like China, Iran, Turkey and others have condemned the US President’s tweet and offered their support to Pakistan. The tweet was a cause of severe resentment among Pakistani people and leadership who have sacrificed thousands in the war against terror.

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There are wide speculations that Pakistan will close its airspace and roads to US military supplies. Pakistan is the only route of US supplies to Afghanistan and after the suspension of aid, and Trump’s tweet, it can be seen as the natural move of retaliation. But the US Secretary of Defense James Mattis has downplayed this concern.

He said that Pakistan has not given any indication that it would block US supplies. ‘We’re still working with Pakistan and we would restore the aid if we see decisive movements against the terrorists — who are as much a threat against Pakistan as they are to us’, he said.

The status Pakistan-US relations remain obscure. There have been ups and down between the two countries ever since the start of the US war on terror but the relationships have hit a new low ever since Donald Trump became the president of the US.

Many contradictory developments are taking place in both the US and Pakistan. While the US Defence Secretary has assured that talks are going on between the two countries for a joint strategy, US Senator Rand Paul has said that he’ll be introducing a bill to end all aid to Pakistan and utilize those resources for infrastructure development within the US.

President Donald Trump has endorsed his view which the senator presented in a tweet. There are also speculations of a unilateral American attack against militants on Pakistani soil. Another US official said that the assistance cut is only one step, US is planning further action if Pakistan fails to comply.

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On the Pakistani side, the Foreign Office and the DG ISPR assured the nation that the US and Pakistan are still allies and talks about mutual cooperation are taking place between the officials of the two nations. They also warned against any unilateral action on Pakistani soil. On the other hand, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif has called ‘US a friend that always betrays’, and also declared that US and Pakistan are no longer allies.

There are wide speculations that Pakistan will close its airspace and roads to US military supplies. Pakistan is the only route of US supplies to Afghanistan and after the suspension of aid, and Trump’s tweet, it can be seen as the natural move of retaliation.

There seems to be a lack of consensus among Pakistani leadership over the US crisis. The status Pakistan-US relations remain obscure. There have been ups and down between the two countries ever since the start of the US war on terror but the relationships have hit a new low ever since Donald Trump became the president of the US.

Read more: American military playing good cop & bad cop with Pakistan

While statements of US Defence Secretary and Foreign Office are assuring that all is not lost, the suspension of aid and the fear of a possible US operation in Pakistan will haunt the relationships of the two countries. President Trump wants to be the person who won the Afghan war.

The rumours about a US operation add more weight to this argument. Pakistan is worried about a possible US offensive because in the past, Pakistan is the one who suffered greatly for any military exercises in Afghanistan, whether they were from Russia or the US. Another major scale operation, if failed, will have serious repercussions for the whole region and cut the existing communication links between Pakistan and Taliban. Pakistan believes that dialogue is the only solution to the Taliban problem. Military operations are yet to bear any fruit so the Pakistani stance appears to be the rational one.

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