Trump’s new strategy gives India license to elevate new proxy conflict with Pakistan: Op-Ed

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WASHINGTON, Sept. 2 (APP): US President Trump’s new strategy on
South Asia that prods India to take a deeper role in Afghanistan’s future gives New Delhi a “license” to elevate a new “proxy conflict” with Pakistan, according to an opinion article published in the online ‘The Hill’ magazine.
American media continues to assess the repercussions of Trump’s new
Afghan policy that broadly covers the volatile South Asian region, home to two nuclear nations that have a history of tense relations.
The new policy has enraged Pakistan which feels betrayed after having
made so many sacrifices in fighting the American war on terrorism with more than 70,000 casualties and a loss of over $100 billion in direct and indirect losses to its economy.
While, Mr. Trump’s call to India to “help us more with
Afghanistan” is likely to “meet with nothing more than a polite smile from New Delhi”, it has a major repercussion for the region, writes Adil Najam, the founding dean of the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies Boston University.
The “biggest consequence” of Mr. Trump’s South Asia strategy is
that “it gives India a license to elevate a new proxy conflict with Pakistan in Afghanistan,” he wrote. “Pakistan is clearly terrified of being trapped in a pincer squeeze on its eastern and western borders by its nemesis, India.”
For Afghanistan, the author said, recent statements from its former
president, Hamid Karzai, suggest there were prospects of yet another major power becoming entrenched in yet another “Great Game.”
For the whole of last seven decades, since the partition of the
sub-continent into Pakistan and India, the American policy in South Asia had been to maintain regional stability by avoiding and actively resisting tensions in the region that has now have world’s two nuclear nations. “As of last week, the new American policy is to pit neighbor against neighbor in South Asia.”
“One day, one hopes, someone will explain to President Trump, like
Chinese President Xi Jinping did about why North Korea is “complicated,” why the India-Pakistan relationship really is as fraught with danger as it is,” the article observed.
The author also believed that as America has abdicated its
“traditional stabilizing role” in South Asia, “Afghanistan that will get kicked around the most, as five of the six largest militaries in the world (China, India, the United States, Russia and Pakistan), all nuclear, jockey for advantage in whatever the new South Asian balance of alliances might become,” the author feared.
Mr. Trump’s new South Asian policy, the author said has left Pakistan
“hurt and angry” but, at the same time, it has also remarkably united opposite forces in condemning the US leader.
“Government, opposition, military and civil society are all equally
offended. All point out how Pakistan itself has had to spend many times more of its own resources in fighting America’s war than whatever America may have provided,” the article said.
While, President Trump’s allegations against Pakistan are not new, he
has “refused to recognize that Pakistan’s struggles to eliminate them are no less challenging than Afghanistan’s or America’s efforts within Afghanistan. This has been seen as particularly disingenuous”.
The author observed that while President Trump has signaled that America
will now look elsewhere, “Pakistan feels compelled to do the same”. The article noted that after Trump’s remarks, and even before an official reaction from Islamabad, China in an official statement called Pakistan all-weather friend and thanked it for its great sacrifices in the fight against terrorism.
Russia’s presidential envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, proclaimed that Pakistan was a “key regional player”. For the author, “such statements and the speed with which they came have been viewed as evidence that Pakistan does have choices, i.e., it may be time for Pakistan to move out of the U.S. orbit and seek deeper alliances elsewhere”.