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Treat with caution

What stood out the most at the beginning of this new year was US President Donald Trump’s tweet, threatening suspension of aid to Pakistan due to the country’s supposed non-cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

Using very undiplomatic language, the impulsive president even went on to accuse Pakistan of providing ‘safe havens’ to extremists. Within minutes of this tirade, the media started off with their analyses on the tweet.

However, since Trump is known for his erratic behaviour on Twitter, should his tweets be taken seriously? Trump’s claim of the US having provided Pakistan with $33billion for fighting extremism in Afghanistan is doubtful just like the authenticity of many of his ‘facts and figures’. Secondly, as pointed out by many, including Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, the amount provided to Pakistan was not aid at all; it was a reimbursement, under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), made to Pakistan for the facilities provided by the country to the US.

In addition, it is also clear that the so-called $33billion have proven to be insufficient in this decades old war on terror. It is the US that should do more, especially its president who needs to do more than just playing a blame game on Twitter. He needs to get off social media and face the situation as it is on the ground since the war on terror is a collective cause in which Pakistan has played an extremely crucial role for what is ultimately America’s own failure.

It needs to be noted that extremist elements within the region were cultivated by the US itself to fight the USSR in Afghanistan and once the cold war ended very little thought was put into how to deal with the doom that followed. It is, therefore, as much the US’ responsibility as it is Pakistan’s to deal with the menace of extremism.

What is certain, though, is that Trump’s tweets and statements are the most damaging of all. Ever since he came into power, there has existed a continuous trend of alienating key US allies by offending them with irresponsible remarks. Shortly after coming into power, Trump called out Germany for its failure to repay debts to the US, which led to Angela Merkel stating that Germany could not count on the US for any assistance.

Moreover, Trump’s tweets with respect to North Korea have worsened relations with an equally erratic Kim Jong-un. The US president’s recent claim of possessing a ‘bigger nuclear button’ than North Korea’s leader is unlikely to exert any controlling influence on North Korea’s increasing ballistic missile tests. On the other hand, Trump also got into a spat with British Prime Minister Theresa May last month for retweeting anti-Muslim videos posted by a leader of a UK far-right group Britain First. Additionally, his recent Twitter comments regarding the anti-government protests in Iran seemed to be ill-researched and badly timed as the country faces a political crisis that has resulted in injuries and deaths.

As far as the threat of cutting down US aid is concerned, it is not just Pakistan to whom such a threat has been issued. The US president and US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, recently threatened to suspend aid to all countries – almost the entire world community – which voted in the UN General Assembly against his stance on Jerusalem.

It needs to be kept in mind that Michael Wolff in his recently published book ‘Fire and Fury’ has raised concerns regarding President Trump’s mental health. The president has also recently been severely criticised on the home front with regard to his proposed tax and health policy reforms. So here is a man whose words, before they are given any credence, need to be treated with caution, because there is always a possibility that they might be (in Trump’s own words) ‘fake news’.

The writer is an advocateof the high court.

Email: qadirmuneeb@ gmail.com

Muneeb Qadir, "Treat with caution," The News. 2018-01-10.
Keywords: Political science , Political issues , International community , Foreign policy , Nuclear button , Political crisis , Extremism , Politics , Diplomacy , Terrorism , Kim Jong-un , President Trump , North Korea , Pakistan , CSF