US weighs crushing political penalties on Pakistan over terrorism support: Report

The penalties range from visa bans to sanctions and a permanent cessation of military aid.

US weighs crushing political penalties on Pakistan over terrorism support: Report
Donald Trump brought two hawkish faces into critical roles over the last week. (File picture)

The Donald Trump administration is considering unprecedented political penalties on Pakistan, a leading American magazine has reported. The penalties mentioned in the report range from visa bans, sanctions and a permanent end to military aid. The report on the Trump White House's thought process comes just a week after the US President replaced moderate voices in his foreign policy apparatus with hawkish figures.

A report in Foreign Policy magazine said the Trump White House and Pentagon view Pakistan as harbouring terrorists who are waging war against the US-backed government in Afghanistan. "The options under consideration include revoking Pakistan's status as a major non-NATO ally, permanently cutting off the US military aid that was suspended two months ago, and even imposing visa bans or other sanctions on individuals in the Pakistani government deemed responsible for providing support to the militants," read the report.

The increasing number of hardliners in Trump policy engine seem to be gaining the upper hand, maintaining that years of aid and accommodation have produced little in return. In the last 10 days, Trump fired moderates Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser HR McMaster and replaced them with hawks - Mike Pompeo and John Bolton.

The visa bans that are now being discussed would be aimed at individual members of the Pakistani government, military, or ISI intelligence service who may be behind the support to terrorists like the Taliban and Haqqani Network to continue operating from Pakistani soil.

"Pakistan is at risk of miscalculating the level of frustration both in Washington and other foreign governments," said a senior State Department official. "In the past, Pakistan has sought to take the minimum action required to placate U.S. concerns without fundamentally altering their policy and strategy," Foreign Policy quoted the official as having said.

The hardening of the line on Pakistan comes just a month after the US led efforts to put Pakistan on a terrorism-financing watchlist, overcoming the opposition from Pakistan allies China and Saudi Arabia. 

"The alliance with Pakistan no longer makes sense for the United States because it undercuts US policy in Afghanistan as well as its effort to build a strategic relationship with India against China," former Pakistani ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani told Foreign Policy magazine.

"It doesn't make sense for Pakistan either," added Haqqani, a long-time critic of the Pakistani military establishment and its policies.

 

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