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'We must reject being made scapegoats for US policy failures'

Updated August 22, 2017

US President Donald Trump on Monday night demanded that Pakistan "stop offering safe haven to agents of chaos” as he presented his policy for the 16-year-long war in Afghanistan in his first formal address as commander-in-chief.

While inviting India to to provide more economic assistance and development to Afghanistan, Trump discarded his previous criticism of America's longest war as "a waste of time and money".

As Pakistan woke up to the US's visibly stronger stance on the country's role in harboring terrorists, analysts and politicians weighed in on how Trump's policy in the Afghan war, his invitation to India and demand from Pakistan to do more could affect the country.

'How can Trump ask us to do more while inviting our number one enemy to the table'

Journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai

"Is it not amazing that President Donald Trump is asking Pakistan to do more in the war while he wants Pakistan’s enemy number one — India — to invest in Afghanistan.

"If India is more actively involved, its grip will increase in Afghanistan, creating a greater threat for Pakistan. How then will we be able to cooperate with America in this war? I don’t think it is possible. In my opinion, Pakistan will extend its cooperation in the matter, but to threaten or pressure it into the decision is not smart.

"Trump does not believe in diplomacy; the tone he had in this address is the only one he has and it leads to problems rather than conflict resolution.

"He says that he will win this 16-year-old war using different diplomatic, political, economic and military means.

"One of Trump's intentions is to build pressure on Pakistan; he will make a number of demands from us as he believes that America can win the war in Afghanistan if Pakistan cooperates.

"However, he needs to understand that building pressure on Pakistan will not lead to a swift resolution of this conflict; rather, it will only make things worse."

'We must reject being made scapegoats for the policy failures of the US and India'

PTI Chief Imran Khan

"Just as India blames Pakistan for the indigenous Kashmiri uprisings when these are a result of its own failed policy of military repression in India-held Kashmir, the US again blames Pakistan for its deeply flawed and failed Afghan policy stretching over a decade.

"This should teach Pakistan once and for all a valuable lesson: never to fight others' wars for the lure of dollars.

"We fought two wars in Afghanistan at the US' behest [while] paying heavy human and economic costs both times. We sacrificed 70,000 lives in the US 'War on Terror'.

"Our economy suffered over $100 billion in losses. In addition, there were intangible costs on our society. Time for Pakistan to say 'never again'.

"We must also reject being made scapegoats for the policy failures of US and India."

'Previous admins were careful not to raise concerns in Pakistan by inviting India to Afghanistan'

Journalist Zahid Hussain

"Toughening of the US stance will have serious ramifications for the two sides [US and Pakistan].

"This is the first time a US president has threatened Pakistan directly since we started participating in the 'War on Terror'.

"By assigning India a greater role in Afghanistan, the US has raised serious concerns in Pakistan — something previous US administrations were careful not to indulge in since we started helping in their war."

'Trump’s stance speeds process for formation of alliances already emerging'

Analyst Zarrar Khuhro

"There are three ways to look at Trump’s new stance; domestically speaking, whenever a US president realizes people have concerns that they have failed to address, they use war as an effective tool to divert attention — if we remember, Trump has done this before with the missile strike on Syria.

"Tactically, for Pakistan, it is going to be more of the same — only ramped up a notch.

"There is already a four-fold increase in drone strikes since Trump came into office.

"We may also anticipate physical incursions into our lands as soon as the US starts feeling that its policy is not effective — which will happen very soon.

"We have already witnessed that all US efforts have failed in Afghanistan; there is widespread corruption in lands and all of their efforts to build any infrastructure have only made things worse.

"I think that they will see their policy fail very soon, and then try and amp up the pressure on Pakistan using more of the same old tactics.

"Strategically speaking, Trump’s stance just speeds up the process for the formation of alliances that we were already seeing being formed.

"We are witnessing closeness between the Trump administration and India. However, I would caution India and tell them to not celebrate as yet as Trump views his international relations in a very transactional manner.

"Pakistan’s alliance with the US is fast approaching its natural conclusion as we align our interests with China more and more.

"Lastly, the South Asia we see at the moment is not the South Asia of 2001 — It is a totally different ball game. Russia has an interest in the region now, China is fast emerging as a player, and one country that no one has talked about in this scenario as yet is Iran.

"Iran has a growing interest in Afghanistan as well — it has been recruiting Afghan shias to fight for its cause in the Middle East. On the other hand Iran also has increasing links with the Afghan Taliban.

"Another thing that may happen — if Pakistan takes up the opportunity — is an understanding between Pakistan and Iran.

"It is interesting that Iran's Armed Forces chief of staff General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri visited Turkey, a common ally, last week.

"In conclusion: I believe, from the US, there will be more of the same for Pakistan, if not slightly more amped up."

'I anticipate more inland attacks and economic sanctions'

Analyst Nusrat Javeed

"President Donald Trump has made a clear-cut statement: he is not asking us to do more, that time has passed — the American president is now asking us to act or else…

"I anticipate more inland attacks on Pakistan besides the economic sanctions that will soon be slapped on us."

'There is no solution without addressing Pakistan's legitimate concerns'

PTI leader Asad Umar

"Trump is threatening to go back to an Afghan policy of troop buildup and pressure on Pakistan — a policy which has failed to deliver in 16 years.

"As far as threat of sanctions are concerned, has anyone told Trump that US flows to Pakistan are so small as to be nearly irrelevant?

"There is no solution in Afghanistan without bringing all its segments on board and addressing the legitimate concerns that Pakistan has."

'Others need to ‘do more’ in Afghanistan'

PPP senator Sherry Rehman

"US policy on Afghanistan doesn't sound new.

"But the administration is new, so its tactical plus geo-strategic moves have amplified an old dogma to new levels.

"I'm sorry, but others need to 'do more' in Afghanistan, not Pakistan.

"I guess we were doing alright as long as [our] supply lines were needed."