ISLAMABAD - The new US policy on Afghanistan and South Asia unveiled by President Donald Trump is likely to spark more tensions in the region.

The US President’s call for Pakistan to stop harbouring terrorists or else and his call for more cooperation with India especially its help in Afghanistan does not augur well for the region which is already plagued with tensions, making it a risky strategy to succeed.

It is perhaps because of this, the US new policy has evoked a mixed reaction. Pakistan has expressed its disappointment, while China immediately in Pakistan’ defence issued a strong statement.

“We believe that the international community should fully recognise Pakistan’s anti-terrorism [efforts],” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily news briefing, noting Pakistan has made “great sacrifices” and “important contributions” in the fight.

Interestingly, Russia has also lambasted Trump’s Pakistan strategy. Russian Presidential Envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov in his initial reaction said on last Tuesday that Pakistan is a regional player to negotiate with.

“Putting pressure on Pakistan may seriously destabilise the region-wide security situation and result in negative consequences for Afghanistan,” Russian Presidential envoy said.

On its part, Pakistan has rejected the US allegations of terrorists’ safe havens on its soil, and wanted the US to acknowledge its sacrifices and contributions in the war against terror.

Islamabad insists it has taken indiscriminate action against the terrorists and re-established the state’s writ in the tribal areas on Pak-Afghan border.

Background discussions with analysts suggest that the new US policy is clearly aimed at prolonging US presence in Afghanistan by creating new proxies in order to what many believed to contain China and obstruct its investment plans in the region.

They looked at the new US policy with scepticism in the face of rapidly changing geo-economics and geo-political dynamics in Asia where China is investing billions of dollars through its One Belt One Road (OBOR) project and Pakistan is one of its beneficiaries.

They believed the US wants to contain China’s investment plans. However, some of the experts did not agree to these notions insisting that China and Pakistan are all weather friends and they have history of their unflinching friendship.

They also believed that China has come into Pakistan’s support because of Indian factor which Beijing looks with scepticism since New Delhi joined the US camp and their joint efforts to contain China in one way or the other.

As regards Russia’s opposition to the new US policy for Afghanistan and South Asia, it is believed that Moscow is of firm opinion that Washington has already failed in its war against terror in Afghanistan and its new strategy would not make any difference.

Some experts believed that Moscow is already upset with the growing foot prints of ISIS also known as Daesh in Afghanistan and thinks the US policy is promoting Daesh by enlisting fighters from Russia and Central Asia which poses direct threat to Russia’s security.

Another reason some viewed President Trump’s risks prune strategy with scepticism is that it would stoke more tensions with Pakistan, as Islamabad views Afghanistan as a buffer to Indian hegemony and does not want that role for New Delhi.

This is because of India’s rivalry with Pakistan over the lingering issue of Kashmir, the unfinished agenda of 1947 partition, which led to major wars between India and Pakistan. Both have been entangled in a war of words and blame game. Pakistan policy of backing Kashmiris morally, diplomatically and politically in their just struggle for right to self-determination as per the UN resolutions which hurts New Delhi and in return India blames Pakistan for sponsoring terrorism. In the past, Pakistan has been embarrassing India on several occasions for creating false flags of terrorist attacks.

On the other hand, Pakistan accuses India of sponsoring terrorism to destabilise it. Pakistan had arrested a senior officer of the India’s premier intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) from Balochistan involved in terrorist attacks inside its territory. 

Pakistan believes that RAW has been sponsoring terrorism in Pakistan by using Afghan soil and terrorist networks enjoying safe heavens in the border regions in eastern Afghanistan.

Pakistan has been seeking actions against terrorists hiding in Afghanistan and unfortunately despite sharing actionable intelligence with the US commanders and Afghan authorities, no action has been taken for reason best known to American commanders and Afghan government.