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Syed Ali Zia Jaffery |

After endless deliberations, bickerings, and dithering, President Trump got the cat out of the bag; the new South Asia policy was announced in his first address to the nation as the Commander in Chief of US forces on Monday. Pandering to his generals, the President ratified the deployment of additional troops; slammed Pakistan, and asked India to play a greater role in stabilizing Afghanistan.

Trump did not lay out a strategy but signed a memorandum for a new, directionless and protracted war which will eventually harm those whom Trump vowed to protect

The President admitted that he always thought that this war was wasteful but things look different from behind the Oval Office. The ever-worsening security profile in Afghanistan since March this year had compelled Trump to outsource the Afghan policy to the Pentagon. The chatter was indicative of the fact that the policy will be military-heavy.

Read more: The US in Afghanistan: A tale of follies & miscalculations

No clear-cut objectives

Trump gave out vague details of the new strategy on purpose. He said that the enemy must not know our plans; troop levels and timing of attacks. The surprise is certainly a principle of war, but untenable in this day, age, and type of war. Officials say that some 3,900 troops will be added to the already-8,400 under General Nicholson’s command. Trump said that the new policy will have no time frame. “We will fight to win,” said Trump.

The author is reticent to call this a strategy for it has no time-specific military objectives. The desire for elusive and evasive victory without spelling-out a desired end-state will convert this into a long-drawn campaign. Trump said that after the military situation becomes favorable, a room can be created for a political dialogue.

“We believe that the international community should fully recognize Pakistan’s anti-terrorism efforts,” said the Chinese Foreign Ministry

This idea is inherently flawed due to two conspicuous reasons. One that the dynamics on the battlefields are not likely to change in favor of US and Afghan forces. The US, with a penchant of applying military power disproportionately, will not be able to obliterate the war-fighting resolve of the Taliban and the ISIS-K for that matter. Even at the tactical level, the US war-fighting approach is flawed; additionally, the lack of follow up at the political, social and diplomatic levels will make these firefights ineffective.

Read more: The bloodbath in Afghanistan continues unabated

Trump categorically stated that we are not building a nation. The 2010-troop surge was unable to alter the milieu on the battlefields; the gargantuan expectations from a modest increase in troop level are delusional at best.

If the US plans to wear-out the Taliban by militarily destroying them to us an extent that it comes to the negotiating table, then it is mistaken. The Taliban reported right after Trump’s speech and vowed to make Afghanistan a graveyard for the US forces. If the track record of the Taliban is any guide then General Nicholson and his under-command will have to rough it out soon.

How ‘not’ to compel Pakistan

The US, by the looks of things, will try to create and stoke up Sino-Indo rivalry in the Afghan theatre in a bid to forestall the still-nascent influence of Beijing in Afghanistan

As expected, Trump flayed Pakistan for providing safe havens to terrorists. He alluded to a new approach toward the troubled ally in Pakistan. “We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations. We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting.”

Read more: Trump’s Afghanistan strategy is simply old wine in a new bottle

Though Trump talked tough on Pakistan, he did not dish out details as to how the US will compel Pakistan to change its course of action. If chatters are anything to go by, Pakistan may be deprived of its Most Non-NATO Ally status; it could also be declared a state sponsor of terrorism. Besides, the US could beef up its drone campaign. “That will have to change and that will change immediately,” Trump said while referring to the need to twist Islamabad.

Pakistan Army has repudiated all accusations repeatedly and has called upon the international community to acknowledge the sacrifices of the country in the fight against terror.

The successful completion of Zarb-e-Azb has been followed by the launch of hybrid-operation, Radd ul Fasad, and Khyber 4 to forestall ISIS-K

Pakistan reaffirmed its commitment to fight the scourge of terrorism. In a press conference on Monday, DG ISPR Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said that there are no terrorist networks in the country today and various US delegations visited the once-afflicted areas themselves.” Even if it comes (stronger policy)… Pakistan shall do whatever is best in the national interest,” said the two-star general.

Pakistan has carried-out CTMILOPS to evict militants from its soil. The successful completion of Zarb-e-Azb has been followed by the launch of hybrid-operation, Radd ul Fasad, and Khyber 4 to forestall ISIS-K. The ISPR announced the attainment of the latter’s military objectives.

Read more: Afghanistan: From Soviet occupation to American ‘Liberation’

President Trump appreciated India and called for further strengthening strategic relations. He said that India has played a significant part in stabilizing Afghanistan and wants India to provide more economic assistance and development to Afghanistan. He said: “India makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States.”

Though Trump talked tough on Pakistan, he did not dish out details as to how the US will compel Pakistan to change its course of action

Pakistan has always called upon the US to assuage its fears in regards Afghanistan. Trump’s laudatory references to India in the speech will vitiate ties between Islamabad and Washington, for Pakistan’s Afghan policy is dominated by the threat of encirclement from India.

The fact that the growing Delhi-Washington ties have always worried Pakistan, Trump’s request for help will set the cat among the pigeons in Islamabad. Pakistan is concerned with the proliferation of R&AW activities in Afghanistan to bolster inimical elements for Pakistan.

If anything, an increase in Indian footprints in Afghanistan will compel Pakistan to look for viable support inside Afghanistan, something which the US wants to stop. The US, by the looks of things, will try to create and stoke up Sino-Indo rivalry in the Afghan theatre in a bid to forestall the still-nascent influence of Beijing in Afghanistan.

Read more: The key to peace in Afghanistan: Bringing all the regional players…

The 2010-troop surge was unable to alter the milieu on the battlefields; the gargantuan expectations from a modest increase in troop level are delusional at best

China came out in full support of its all-weather ally. Perhaps the evolving geopolitics dynamics have demarcated the battlefields more clear than ever before. “We believe that the international community should fully recognize Pakistan’s anti-terrorism efforts,” said the Chinese Foreign Ministry. India is an enemy state of China and Pakistan. US’ attempts to ramp up Sino-Indo rivalry are further solidifying ties between Islamabad and Beijing.

Compellance by punishment may not be compelling enough for Pakistan. Divorced and rebuked by the Us, Pakistan will look to further strengthen its ties with China and take forward those with Russia. The US is set to lose more from this likely divorce, for Pakistan is still an important conduit for attaining a negotiated settlement with the Taliban.

Trump did not lay out a strategy but signed a memorandum for a new, directionless and protracted war which will eventually harm those whom Trump vowed to protect. It is a policy bereft of a strategy.

Syed Ali Zia Jaffery is a Research Analyst and Sub Editor at Global Village Space.He frequently writes on defense and strategic affairs but cricket is his passion above else. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

Syed Ali Zia Jaffery is a Research Analyst and Sub-Editor at Global Village Space (GVS). He frequently writes on defense and strategic affairs of South Asia.

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