Trump administration’s decision to accept Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has sent shock waves across the world. Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, showed his dismay with the decision saying that the US has lost the mediating role in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiation. The indignation over the mediating role of the US should not have waited for the Trump administration to finally shed the veneer of hypocrisy from the US policy for Israel. In spite of all the diplomatic efforts the US has made to settle the Palestinian cause, none proved fruitful. Behind every effort, there was a Machiavellian choice to strengthen further Israel’s capability to crush not only the unarmed Palestinians but also to deter the Muslims in the region from influencing Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine.
In addition to that, the pro-Israeli lobby in Washington with leverage on its electoral politics has made US mediation just a lip service. Every American presidential candidate, whether Republican or Democrat, goes before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee during the election campaign and recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This practice started after the passage of 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act. Except for Trump, none of his predecessors recognized the need to fulfil their promise. He lived up to his promise, insisting that from this mess the solution to Palestine problem will emerge. Trump has not broken any status quo, though, but he has broken the probability of any peace in the Middle East.
If there is one definition that fits the US, it is creating chaos in the world through policies of regime change, especially through its war on terrorism. For the latter, Pakistan had to take the highest flak of all. Being an ally once does not mean being an ally forever. In its latest warning, Trump administration has told Pakistan to either pull triggers against the Taliban or expect a US attack. The threat reminds drone attacks on which there was a tacit approval from Pakistan to lose its sovereign rights and allowing its people to be bombed along with the criminals.
This policy of appeasement with the US needs to be revisited as it is not 2001 anymore. The world has changed in the last 16 years. The balance of power in the region is now in favour of China. The Taliban in Afghanistan are not depending on Pakistan only for its identity; China, Iran, and Russia are equally in the equation to decide the power formula in Afghanistan. If the war in Afghanistan is not getting closer to an end, there is a need to consider intents and conduct of other important regional actors. In his interview with Saleem Safi, anchor Geo News, the Hezb-i-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar said that Iran had been supplying ammunition to the Taliban. The same is true of Russia.
On the other hand, Hamid Karzai, the former President of Afghanistan, has been saying in different interviews that the US is supporting Islamic State in Afghanistan by providing weapons and logistical support. These facts indicate that the Afghan war has become everybody’s war. Previously, the Afghan soil was used by India, Pakistan, the US and the USSR for their regional interests, now it is Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and China doing the same.
In this scenario, the US policy towards Pakistan needs a rethink. Blaming Pakistan for the Taliban resurgence is a claim that vindicates the assertion that the US has no serious intention to leave Afghanistan and is, therefore, not serious to find any solution. Not leaving Afghanistan and with zero effort toward peace-making, the US is giving Pakistan genuine reasons to rely on unconventional means, given there is limit to stretching its force to counter multiple threats emanating from Afghanistan and India. It is about time that Pakistan gives priority to its national interest.
Perhaps the Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa tried to give some sense to our national interest when he said that now it was USA’s turn to do more. Pakistan is the only country, which has suffered the most in becoming US’s ally to combat terrorism in Afghanistan. When did the Pakistan Taliban come into being? They were formed as a reaction to Pakistan’s support to USA’s cause of eliminating Islamic extremism. Pakistan’s, initially excited to join the global alliance, gave little thought to the ground and therefore paid, and is still paying, heavily in terms of human and financial loss.
The attack on the Lal Masjid in 2007 was the catalyst that would later shove the country into a never-ending internal war until the massacre of the Army Public School children on December 16, 2014. India has all along supported the Pakistan Taliban under the US glare, however there is no admonition. The US penchant to favour unjust war, like it has done by declaring Jerusalem as the Israel capital, would only exacerbate terrorism in the region. It is not Pakistan, but the US and its confused policies (by design) in Afghanistan that is not allowing it to return to peace. Therefore, it is the US that has to align itself with the changing realities, only if there is an intention to do that.
This policy of appeasement with the US needs to be revisited as it is not 2001 anymore. The world has changed in the last 16 years.