WASHINGTON: The Trump White House is divided over how to deal with Pakistan, with some officials favouring a hardline approach and others warning against alienating a nuclear-armed country of 200 million people, the US media reported on Tuesday.

The divide — reported by the prestigious Foreign Policy magazine — is reflected in recent statements by US officials who continue to urge Pakistan to do more for eliminating terrorism but also acknowledge that Pakistan has taken “some positive steps in the right direction”.

Also read: US, Pakistan much to gain from cooperation, says Trump aide

According to the report, the hardliners argue that years of aid and accommodation with Pakistan “have produced little in return” and now is the time for some “punitive actions”.

Those urging caution point out that Pakistan is not only a nuclear nation but also has a strategic location — “borders China” — and that’s why it would be a mistake to alienate it.

But some in the administration believe that recent punitive actions — such as the suspension of security aid — have had a positive impact on Pakistan and urge the Trump administration to keep up the pressure.

“We’ve certainly seen Pakistan take some positive steps in the right direction,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said at a recent news briefing.

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2018