Afghans have long been calling on the international community, particularly the United States which leads the Afghan war, to get tough on Pakistan. Though the United States, from time to time, talks about Pakistan’s duplicitous behavior, and delivers warnings to it, it has not yet taken any practical step against it that can deescalate the Afghan war through the weakening the Taliban. Washington ratcheted up pressure on Islamabad after Donald Trump rose to power, especially following his announcement of the new US strategy for South Asia and Afghanistan. The US has long been warning Pakistan to stop supporting terrorists, yet it doesn’t clearly state the next steps if Pakistan refuses to do so, which it has done so far, but has not yet faced any actions.
Even after Trump’s unveiling of his strategy for the region, the game has not seen any change. Pakistan continues to back terrorists, and the United States has not done anything to curb the trend, except some warnings.
It was expected that US Defense Secretary James Norman Mattis, during his visit to Islamabad, would specify the actions the US will take if Pakistan continues to support terrorists, but he did not. After the visit, the Pentagon said in a statement that James Mattis had recognized the sacrifices Pakistan has made in the war on terror, and asked the Pakistani government to double its counterterrorism efforts. Mattis has adopted a stance as if Pakistan has taken some actions against the militants, especially Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network, so that he now asks Pakistan to redouble them.
Not only the US seriousness against Pakistan cannot be trusted after years of similar behavior, but there are many questions about the superpower’s honesty in the war against terrorism, which should be clearly raised in the discussions about Afghan-US relations, and Afghan people who are the primary victims of terrorism should get convincing answers.