The impact of Mr. Trump’s address could be measured by the intensity of concern it generated in Pakistan. In almost all news channels and commentaries in the Pak media there was a sense of concern that the US might take its war on terror to Pakistan.
Pakistani observers are worried about the US President’s decision to send more troops, grant US military autonomy of decision making on the ground, and to seek out and eliminate terrorists wherever they are, “for killers need to know they have nowhere to hide, that no place is beyond the reach of American might and American arms”. Pakistani authorities are paranoid that US may conduct drone attacks inside Pakistan and target terror groups.
Pakistani commentators are extremely worried about Mr. Trump’s open invitation to India to play greater role in Afghanistan. It is being touted as a ploy to work together against China, and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). In some circles, there is a concern that it is the beginning of the end of US-Pak relationship. This was also accentuated by the US Secretary of State Tillerson, who asked for withdrawal of non-NATO ‘ally’ status and stoppage of aid and military assistance to Islamabad.
There is a common refrain in Pakistan that the civilian government has failed the country. It has not been able to convince the US about the alleged interference of Afghan agencies in Pakistan. It could not even respond to Mr. Trump’s allegation sooner than China, which came quickly to Pakistan’s defence for its sacrifices in its war against terror.
As expected, there is nobody to blame the Pakistan army. In reality, it is the institution that runs Pakistan’s foreign and security policy. They are the ones who enable and empower Taliban. The ‘Dawn-leaks’ episode clearly showed how a report about civilians asking the military to rein in jihadis brought about a political earthquake in Islamabad!
The people of Pakistan are blinded by their distrust of the politicians, who are as bad or good as their counterparts elsewhere in the world. The army-controlled propaganda paints them as evil. The people, with short memories, forget the worse misrule by the military dictators. Pakistan continues to be held hostage by an army that does not allow democracy to function. It is now inserting its agents like Jamaat-ud-Dawa (read Lashkar-e-Taiba) into politics in the name of mainstreaming them