Pak-US ties seem to be taking a dour turn as President Donald Trump’s administration has quietly cut scores of Pakistani officers from coveted training and educational military programs. This move comes as the first known implementation of Trump’s threat this year to suspend U.S. security assistance to Pakistan in a bid to compel it to crack down on Islamic militants. The effective suspension of Pakistan from the U.S. government’s International Military Education and Training program (IMET) will close off places that had been set aside for 66 Pakistani officers this year.
Terminating the training programs have deep political implications for the bilateral engagement of the two countries, and comes on the heels of the Imran Khan vouching for a more reciprocative relationship with the recalcitrant US. The programs stood as a hallmark of bilateral military relations for more than a decade, and such a punitive measure stands to undermine a crucial trust-building keystone, for the PAK-US relationship remains pivoted on military cooperation in the War of Terror.
Trump’s mercurial carrot-stick approach to US’s foreign policy has been widely criticised by international and US representatives as myopic and will lend further contention in the White House against the President’s rancorous methodology. On Pakistan’s end, such retributive actions negate the new PM-elects call for a mutually beneficial relationship and should be responded to in kind. The Trump administration is well on its way to diplomatically isolating itself, recently back-pedaling on its stance on sanctions on Iran. With the Pak-Iran ties on the mend, and a new government in reign, it is a prime moment for Pakistan to consider reconfiguring its place in the global arena. Where officials allude to extended ties with China and Russia for military leadership training, if the new government foregoes the imminent IMF bailout and the political strings attached to it, Pakistan might be well on its way to realigning itself in the geopolitical landscape.