15 June, 2021

Full Speed, Into The Dragon’s Belly

American snarls drive Pakistan into leaning heavily on China. Yet, more US boots in Afghanistan might require a rapprochement with Rawalpindi.

All-Weather Patrols
Chinese and Pakistani military personnel at the PoK-Xinjiang border
Photograph by PTI
Full Speed, Into The Dragon’s Belly

Once Gen Colin Powell of the US called Pakistan’s president and army chief Pervez Muhsrraf and said, “you are with us or against us”, and the job got done, at least to a large extent. Pakistan delivered numerous al-Qaeda leaders to the US, except of course bin Laden, who, according to Lt. Gen (retd) Asad Durrani, was kept as part of a prospective trade-off. The cooperation and collaboration changed over years as interests of the two allies, Pakistan and the US, diverged to a point that Donald Trump has announced Pakistan as a problem and seems happy to punish the former ally for not delivering. It is also believed that Washington will punish Islamabad even harder than in the past by imposing sanctions. Thus, every time that Pakistan is seen as crossing a line, the US will be ready with a whip.

There are, nevertheless, three issues worth consideration. First, does the Trump announcement mean end of a dialogue between Pakistan and America? The US president’s bark was fairly loud but this is not being interpreted in Islamabad as denoting a capacity to...

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