Pakistan Will Never ‘Compromise’ on Ties With China Because of US Pressure: Experts
© AFP 2023 AAMIR QURESHIChinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers and Pakistani commandos from the Special Service Group (SSG) participate in a ceremony as they wrap up their two-week military exercise in Jhelum on November 24, 2011.
© AFP 2023 AAMIR QURESHI
The US designated Pakistan as a “major non-NATO ally” during the infamous ‘War on Terror’. Today, however, China is Pakistan's biggest supplier of weapons.
Pakistani media reported last week that Ismabad reportedly reached out to Washington requesting the resumption of arms supplies to the crisis-hit nation.
Commenting on the reports, experts told Sputnik that the United States could subject Pakistan to renewed pressure to regulate the latter's bilateral ties with China in return for resuming its military aid to Islamabad.
“Washington can put pressure on Pakistan to counter China, but it is worth mentioning here that Pakistan has never compromised on China. History will tell you clearly that Pakistan and China are all-weather friends. If Washington puts pressure on Pakistan, it would be a disaster for itself, as it will further push Pakistan to move much closer to China,” said Syed Fakhar KaKaKhel, an independent analyst specialising in militancy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
He reckoned that Washington has always sought to hyphenate its ties between India and Pakistan, which he added has proven to be a “fatal mistake” in Afghanistan amid a resurgence in terrorist activity since the Taliban* stormed to power in Kabul in September 2021.
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)**, an offshoot of the Afghan Taliban, has been held responsible for the surge in violence, having claimed more than 100 attacks since last November after a Taliban-brokered ceasefire with the Pakistani authorities broke down. Last year, the TTP claimed 89 of the 262 attacks in Pakistan, as per Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies.
Both Pakistan and the United Nations have claimed that the leadership of the TTP still enjoys a safe haven in Afghanistan, a charge that the Taliban has consistently rejected.
“Pakistan is trying to approach every helping hand while countering terrorism. They have also approached China to get support for this new wave of terror. Pakistan has kept its door open for the help in these difficult times that the country is going through,” explained KaKaKhel.
Abdullah Khan, the director of Pakistan Institute of Conflict and Security Studies, recalled that Islamabad has been a major recipient of American military aid.
“It used to be a US ally in both Afghan wars. The Pakistani military already has plenty of American equipment in its inventory, yet it keeps its foreign policy independent and it can keep a balance between the US and China in the future as it kept in the past,” Khan told Sputnik.
Khan said that there was “no doubt” that Washington was seeking to “apply pressure” on Islamabad through different means, but “Pakistan is a smart nation and knows how to find ways and means to protect its interests.”
Pakistan Facing ‘New Wave of Terror’
KaKakhel opined that Islamabad was in “dire need” of US support to counter a “new wave of terror” -- which is, in fact, a result of US actions in neighboring Afghanistan.
“It is a known fact that the mess in Afghanistan is created by the US and by leaving Afghanistan in such a hurry, handing it over to their own enemies. I mean, the Afghan Taliban,” the expert stated.
KaKakhel also underlined that the US has also left behind around $7 billion worth of weapons for the Taliban, which could prove to be a “major threat” to Afghanistan’s neighbours, including the central Asian nations.
He noted that that previously many of these western weapons had fallen in the hands of terrorist groups and that same could be case again.
Will US Resume Military Aid to Pakistan?
The comments by the experts come as Islamabad reportedly requested Washington to resume its military aid, which was suspended in 2018 by ex-US President Donald Trump.
The Trump administration claimed that despite over $33 billions in aid received by Pakistan between 2001 and 2018, Islamabad continued to provide “safe haven to the terrorists”. US State Secretary Antony Blinken supported this claim during a Congressional hearing in 2021.
Ties between Islamabad and Washington have been gaining momentum again since last year, with high-level visits to Washington by the foreign minister as well as the military leadership.
Last week, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Masood Khan called for restoring Washington's ‘Foreign Military Financing and Foreign Military Sales’ to Islamabad.
India Opposes to US Military Aid to Neighbor
New Delhi has regularly opposed the US military aid to Islamabad, saying that the western weapons are more often than not used by Islamabad against New Delhi at the India-Pakistan border.
Last year, New Delhi objected to the US State Department’s approval of Foreign Military Sales (FMS) worth $450 million to Pakistan for the sustainability of Pakistan’s F-16 fighter jet fleet.
Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar remarked that the US wasn’t “fooling anybody” by claiming that these jets were being deployed for counter-terror operations at the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
But Islamabad has maintained that it wants American military assistance to counter a growing spate of terrorist violence, which it says is a fallout of its association with Washington during the 20-year long War on Terror post 9/11 attacks.
* under UN sanctions
** under UN sanctions