NEW YORK: The Trump administration’s attempt at “humiliating and penalizing” Pakistan for failing to take decisive action against Afghan Taliban is unlikely to work, Richard Olson, a former American ambassador to Pakistan, said Tuesday, warning that Islamabad has greater leverage over the United States.
“Pakistan, like most countries, reacts very badly to public attempts to force its hand. It is likely to respond by showing how it can truly undercut our position in Afghanistan,” Olson, who also served as the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said in an article published in the The New York Times in which he assessed the impact of the decision to withhold security assistance to Pakistan.
“For the past 16 years our military efforts in landlocked Afghanistan have been dependent on transit through and especially overflight of Pakistani territory,” he wrote. “Absent an implausible similar arrangement with Iran, other options are not good. Supply through the Central Asian states to the north is theoretically possible, but would rely on Russian good will. Enough said. Without Pakistani cooperation, our army our army in Afghanistan risks becoming a beached whale.”
The harsh truth, Olson added, was that American leverage over Pakistan has been declining. “And as United States aid levels have diminished – reflecting bipartisan unhappiness with Pakistani policy – aid from the Chinese has increased,” referring to China’s investment of $62 billion in Pakistani infrastructure under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). “Its magnitude and its transformation of parts of Pakistan dwarf anything the United States has ever undertaken,” the ex-Us envoy said.
“Thus, the Trump administrations attempt at humiliating and penalizing Pakistan is unlikely to work,” he emphasized.
“The path of the tweet and highly public aid cuts is not a method that will engender success. The United States can address Afghanistan only with a political initiative.
“The Trump administration has publicly stated that it sees the conflict ending only through a negotiated solution. It is difficult to understand why no such diplomatic initiative had been started.”