Home Global Village Tillerson’s tough talk in New Delhi against Pakistan: What next?

Tillerson’s tough talk in New Delhi against Pakistan: What next?

New Delhi
  • 149
    Shares

News Analysis |

US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson has said that India is a natural partner in the fight against terrorism while accusing Pakistan of harboring terrorists. Tillerson,64, made these remarks while addressing a joint press conference with Indian Minister for External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday as part of his maiden visit to South Asia and the Gulf countries.

Tillerson, who is at odds with President Trump because of his fondness for deft diplomacy to resolve simmering crises, said that safe havens in Pakistan must be destroyed. “In my discussions in Islamabad, we were frank to conclude that there are too many terrorist outfits that find a safe haven in Pakistan. We are putting in place a mechanism to deny these outfits the ability to launch attacks on other countries,” said Tillerson. This was understandably well-received because the statement panders to India’s long-held assertion about Islamabad.

Tillerson said: “We want to work with Pakistan in a positive way as we think this is in their interest in the long run.”

Continuing from where she left off at the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly(UNGA), Sushma Swaraj flayed Pakistan. She said: “Recent attacks in Afghanistan are proof that safe havens and supporters of terrorism are active. Pakistan needs to act on this.US president Donald Trump’s policies on terrorism can only succeed if Islamabad takes action on terror groups in the country.”

Read more: Tillerson’s Pakistan visit was a mere formality?

However, India who wishes to see the US take punitive actions against Pakistan in regards to terrorism seems concerned about US’s refusal to pull the plug on Pakistan. Tillerson said: “We want to work with Pakistan in a positive way as we think this is in their interest in the long run.”

The outspoken foreign minister, Khawaja Asif briefed the upper house of the Parliament on Wednesday, assuring them that the country will not cave-in to US pressure. He said that Islamabad impressed upon the US to admit its follies in Afghanistan and accept the ground realities.

Pakistan treated Tillerson’s visit differently this time; apart from the fact that a low-ranked officer received him at the airport, Pakistan deliberately made up a delegation to meet him which included the prime minister and the Army Chief. The outspoken foreign minister, Khawaja Asif briefed the upper house of the Parliament on Wednesday, assuring them that the country will not cave-in to US pressure. He said that Islamabad impressed upon the US to admit its follies in Afghanistan and accept the ground realities.

The 67-year old while rejecting the presence of sanctuaries in Pakistan said that with 55% of Afghan territory is not in control of the government, militants do not need to use Pakistani territory to plan and mount attacks inside Afghanistan.

Read more: Tillerson returned empty-handed from Pakistan

Where is the strategy? 

Observers find little new in the enunciations made by Tillerson, the laudatory references made by India and the defiance shown by Pakistan. Ever since the announcement of the new South Asia policy, the US has stepped up pressure on Pakistan, much to the delight of Delhi. The fact that US’ Containment Policy viz China is well and truly back in the region, it is quite reasonable to assert that Delhi’s support is paramount for the US, especially when that country has failed to establish more than a tactical and transactional relationship with Pakistan.

“[The] US has promised to work on Pakistan to deliver on terror in the past as well, but India hasn’t yet seen much evidence of that when it comes to Pakistan based terror groups that target India specifically like LeT and JeM,” she contended. 

However, analysts warn India against being overly optimistic about its ties with the US, for they believe that the US will not compel and deter Pakistan in a way that India is looking for.

Read more: What should India expect from Tillerson?

GVS spoke to prominent Indian journalist and diplomatic affairs expert, Suhasini Haidar. She was cautious in saying with certitude that the growing bonhomie and promises of better ties will translate into actions on the ground. “India has already issued several statements welcoming the new South Asia policy,” she said. “But given that the Tillerson visit didn’t see any major announcements on the policy, it remains to be seen what it will mean practically on the ground,” she added.

“India has already said clearly that there would be no boots on the ground, and it’s military assistance thus far has been restricted to 4 helicopters and training army personnel in India. Secondly, while Trump has encouraged India in the development sector, it is hard to see how this can increase without significantly using the Iran route,” Haidar stressed.

While the US is concerned about Pakistan’s behavior, it is not in a position to pull the plug on that country. Haidar, mindful of this fact said: “[The] US has promised to work on Pakistan to deliver on terror in the past as well, but India hasn’t yet seen much evidence of that when it comes to Pakistan based terror groups that target India specifically like LeT and JeM,” she contended.

“India is also not in favor of mainstreaming Taliban leaders who have allegiances in Pakistan. Given all of the above, it is likely that the Indo US bilateral cooperation will be much stronger, as India waits and watches to see US’s next move in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” she iterated while raising doubts on how India would augment its role in Afghanistan and how Trump will shun away his spite for Iran in a bid to bolster trade. “India has already said clearly that there would be no boots on the ground, and it’s military assistance thus far has been restricted to 4 helicopters and training army personnel in India. Secondly, while Trump has encouraged India in the development sector, it is hard to see how this can increase without significantly using the Iran route,” Haidar stressed.

Read more: “China’s Belt & Road” distracting US?

While many are of the opinion that battle lines have been drawn in the South Asian theatre, it would be interesting to see how stratagems in the region unfold under the aegis of the military-heavy new South Asia policy.


  • 149
    Shares

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here