WASHINGTON, Feb 7:
The US should “levy costs” on Pakistan for perpetuating terrorism in India and Afghanistan and must quickly formulate a new approach toward the country to prevent it from using terror for foreign policy ends, top US think-tanks have recommended to the Trump administration.
“For too long, the US has given Pakistan a pass on its support for some terrorist groups based in Pakistan, including those used against India. The US squandered a valuable opportunity in the aftermath of 9/11 and the 2001-2002 India-Pakistani military crisis to alter the Pakistani military’s fundamental calculations on the use of terrorism for foreign policy ends,” said the report prepared by eminent South Asia experts from nearly 10 top American think tanks.
“The objective of the Trump administration’s policy toward Pakistan must be to make it more and more costly for Pakistani leaders to employ a strategy of supporting terrorist proxies to achieve regional strategic goals,” said the report titled ‘A New US Approach to Pakistan: Enforcing Aid Conditions without Cutting Ties’, which would be formally released on Friday.
“There should be no ambiguity that the US considers Pakistan’s strategy of supporting terrorist proxies to achieve regional strategic advantage as a threat to US interests. US policy must also pay attention to non-proliferation goals while dealing with Pakistan,” it said.
“Pakistani military leaders continue to support terrorist groups that attack India in an effort to keep it off balance and to draw international mediation into the dispute with India over Kashmir,” said the report.
“Pakistan’s use of terrorist groups as part of its security and foreign policy is a function of its obsession with India, which it perceives as an existential threat. From an outside perspective, Pakistan’s paranoia regarding India is unfounded,” it said.
“Pakistan’s seemingly unconstrained expansion of its nuclear arsenal, particularly the development of tactical nuclear weapons and extended–range missile systems, also remains a cause for concern, especially with regard to India,” said the report co-authored by Lisa Curtis from The Heritage Foundation and Husain Haqqani, the former Pakistan Ambassador to the US, who is now with The Hudson Institute.
With India-Pakistan tensions on the rise, the report recommends that the Trump administration must formulate a new policy approach toward Pakistan quickly.
The report, which is believed to have become part of the internal deliberations of President Donald Trump’s administration, on what to do with Pakistan says as a first step, the US must warn Pakistan that its status as a Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) is in serious jeopardy.
The report said Pakistan never changed its policy of supporting certain militant groups that fight Afghan and coalition forces, making it impossible for the US to achieve its objective of keeping Afghanistan from reverting to a safe haven for international terrorism.
“The US should no longer sacrifice its anti-terrorism principles in the region for the sake of pursuing an ‘even-handed’ South Asia policy, but rather should levy costs on Pakistan for policies that help perpetuate terrorism in the region. In particular, US officials must break the habit of trying to balance policies toward India and Pakistan and should instead pursue shared mutual interests with each.
“At the same time, the US should be modest about its ability to bridge what divides India and Pakistan,” the report recommends.
“Unless Pakistan takes immediate steps to demonstrate that it fully shares US counterterrorism objectives, the US will revoke its MNNA status within six months,” it said.
“Present to Pakistan a list of calibrated actions for ending its support to the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network, and make clear that failure to make substantial progress on these steps could eventually result in Pakistan’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism,” it recommends.
“If Pakistan does not make progress on the above steps, the US should consider compiling a list of Pakistani military and Inter-Services Intelligence officials, current and former, who are known to have facilitated acts of terrorism— including supporting the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network — and barring them from travel to the US,” the report said.
Running into 18-pages and titled ‘A New US Approach to Pakistan: Enforcing Aid Conditions without Cutting Ties,’ the report was along with Curtis and Haqqani was prepared by Col (retd) John Gill (National Defense University), Anish Goel (New America), Polly Nayak (Independent Consultant), Aparna Pande Hudson Institute), Bruce Riedel (Brookings Institution), David S Sedney (Center for Strategic and International Studies) and Marvin Weinbaum (Middle East Institute). (PTI)