Dear President Trump,
Kudos on standing up to Pakistan and its support of terror. I’m sure you took notice of what just happened after you tweeted your first communique of 2018:
“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!”
Pakistan kicked and screamed and pouted. “We do not have any alliance,” said Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif. “This is not how allies behave.”
Yet the prospect of losing $900 million in military aid apparently caused the country to reconsider.
Pakistan just detained arch-terrorist Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, after dithering around for years arresting and releasing him.
But this time it looks different — like Pakistan is taking your demands seriously — because the U.S. has put its money where its mouth is.
In 2017, you wisely withheld $350 million in aid over Pakistan’s support of terror; the U.S. also held on to an additional $225 from 2016 for the same reasons.
Although Pakistan claimed it was fighting terror (the military says it lost more than 7,000 soldiers fighting al-Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban and ISIS since the 9/11 attacks), you rightly said it wasn’t enough. The country’s obvious support for the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani network (another Afghani terror organization) and Lashkar-e-Tayyaba was more than enough reason for you to tighten the purse strings.
Not to mention the threat that Pakistan could be the next country added to the travel ban.
So, not only did Pakistan’s president order the detention of Saeed and start enforcing the country’s anti-terror laws, he also appointed a new head of the military, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, who insiders say has a reputation for being religiously progressive and pro-democracy.
The State Department recently called Bajwa “well-intentioned.” It certainly seems like it based on what his spokesman says about his boss’ resolve to root out Islamist terrorism.
“If Pakistan improves, and the army chief goes to his grave [i.e. gets assassinated, a real possibility in Pakistan], he would still think it’s all worth it,” said Maj.-Gen. Asif Ghafoor.
“Individuals are less important than the state. The national interest must prevail,” he added.
Ghafoor said the decision to detain Saeed was based on a new “national policy and for the national interest.”
A former air officer (now popular news analyst), Shehzad Chaudhry, said the government was reacting to “a changing environment.”
What we clearly see is that America still has plenty of leverage on the international scene. With proper leadership, that leverage can be used as a force for good in the world.
I know you’re not — but don’t be shy.
Pressure pays. Keep it up.