U.S. Joint Chief of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford says he is hopeful strained relations between the U.S. and Pakistan can be improved, reports Defense News.
After its independence in 1947 and throughout the Cold War period, the United States and Pakistan maintained a close relationship that has often been fraught with mistrust and tension. This tension came into full play earlier this year, as President Donald Trump greeted the New Year with a tweet reflecting the sentiments of many Americans about Pakistan:
The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2018
When President Trump carried out his threat to suspend U.S. aid to Pakistan, such an action was not without precedent. In fact, in the late 1970s, President Jimmy Carter suspended all U.S. aid to Pakistan over Pakistan’s refusal to end its nuclear weapons program. Only after 1980, when Pakistan became the main source for delivering American supplies to the mujahideen fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, did the relationship enter another high point. Pakistani military and its intelligence agency became as close to the United States just as the amount of foreign aid increased.
According to Reuters, since 2002, the United States has given at least $20 billion in security assistance to the Pakistani intelligence and military. In return, Pakistan has facilitated the passage of U.S. aid and supplies through Afghanistan.
Reflecting similar sentiments that evolved in the wake of the Cold War and in the post-911 world, elements of which continue to this day in Afghanistan, Sajid Tarar, a PakistaniAmerican aide to President Trump recently affirmed the strong bond between the two unseemly allies.
According to Pakistan Today, Tarar said, “I am hopeful that Pakistan-US relationship will improve and I am not disappointed one bit. Governments on both sides are weighing their options and trying to figure out how to effectively engage each other in the future.”
Tarar also highlighted the sentiments of Pakistani Americans in the United States about politicians back in Pakistan. He urged the Pakistani politicians to “tread carefully over this sensitive matter and refrain from creating panic in the society.”
“They are misleading the people by creating an impression of an impending war between Pakistan and US. The ground situation is completely different from what we generally hear,” said Tarar in a video message, reports Tribune.
He also praised the Pakistani American community, stating that Pakistanis living in the United States continually addressed the fear and mistrust present between the two countries by acting as a “cultural bridge.” Many Pakistani Americans are justifiably concerned about the latest tensions in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship and envision a better future between the two bashful allies and unique bedfellows.
As President Trump considers a range of punishments against Pakistan, there remains hope that a coherent U.S. foreign policy in Afghanistan will make Pakistan — and Pakistani Americans such as Sajid Tarar — an important component of the larger strategy in dealing with the threats of terrorism that poison the Pakistani society and hurt U.S. national security interests.
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