past 14 years India has hosted a US president three times, Pakistan has hosted
none. President Donald Trump’s stand-alone visit further hardens the
de-hyphenation of India from Pakistan in US foreign policy. The last US
President to make a state visit to Pakistan was George W. Bush in early March
2006, a trip that included India. Barack Obama never went there.
to 2006, every US presidential South Asian visit included both India and
Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqi earlier tried to explain it away,
saying Trump “wants an exclusive visit to Pakistan which is not linked to any
other visit in the region because Pakistan has its own distinct place.” Prime
Minister Imran Khan issued an invitation to Trump last July.
multiple reasons why India and Pakistan are no longer joined at the hip as far
as presidential visits are concerned.
is the much deeper strategic relationship that has developed between India and
the US, one that encompasses counterterrorism, China, and global issues such as
trade and energy. The Pakistan agenda is only about terrorism.
has been a gradual but consistent evolution over the past decade and is partly
a product of the growing importance of India in America’s strategic calculus,”
said Jeff Smith, South Asia analyst for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative
think tank close to the Trump administration.
dramatic manifestation of this break was George W. Bush’s civilian nuclear deal
with India – a deal Pakistan asked for and did not get. Rick Rossow of the
Center for Strategic and International Studies said: “Recall that just a few
years earlier, President Bill Clinton felt he had to roll back post-nuclear
test sanctions placed against India and Pakistan simultaneously.”
is Pakistan’s continuing role as a haven for terrorists. Smith says this has
led to a“broad sense of frustration with Pakistan that cuts across both
diplomats say the US is extremely pro-active in the United Nations when it
comes to getting terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed’s chief Masood Azhar listed as a
terrorist or keeping Pakistan on the terrorism-related financial action task
force’s grey list.
is complicated. Trump’s offers to mediate on Kashmir worry India and enthuse
Pakistan. Sources in Washington say this is motivated by Trump’s dream of
winning a Nobel Peace Prize.
offered to mediate everywhere, they note, including Northern Ireland. But
Trump’s rhetoric about wanting to mediate even while talking about improving
relations with India “does not help the cause of de-hyphenation,” admitted
Stephen Tankel, who teaches at American University and is a terror expert.
believes facilitating a US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan will one day mean
a visit by Air Force One.
to Afghanistan’s stability goes through Rawalpindi. So the US has an interest
in maintaining some level of connection with Pakistan. But it will be a more
utilitarian approach over time,” said Rossow. Smith was sceptical, arguing,
“Trump’s desire to withdraw troops from Afghanistan is genuine but he views no
deal with the Taliban as preferable to a bad deal.”
is almost zero US interest in Pakistan as an economic partner. Bilateral trade
was $ 6.6 billion in 2018, versus $ 150 billion with India.
investment in Pakistan is a minuscule $ 386 million, less than what the US puts
into a medium-sized Indian state. The overwhelming Chinese economic footprint
is a further negative.
“I find it
hard to envision any scenario in which a policy of re-hyphenation returns,”
said Smith. “Even if the president were so inclined, which he is not, there
would be substantial, potentially insurmountable, resistance from Congress and
the Washington strategic community.”
January press briefing, Farooqi declined to give a time frame for a US
presidential visit to Pakistan.
it could take place later this year and the “two sides are working on it.” US
diplomats said they doubted such talks were taking place with the US
presidential elections looming.
Headline: Is Trump’s trip to India a message for Pakistan?
Source: The Hindustan Times