ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Farhatullah Babar has said that Pakistan and United States relations have traditionally been transactional in nature.
He said this while commenting on President Trump's policy towards Afghanistan and South Asia at a seminar organized by Area Study Centre for Africa, North and South America (ASC), Quaid-i-Azam University here.
Senator Farhatullah Babar, Senator Afrasiab Khattak, Khalid Mahmood and Dr Shaheen Akhtar, at the seminar explored different dimensions of President Trump's policy towards Afghanistan and South Asia, highlighted its impacts and consequences in the light of complex regional geo-strategic environment and suggested some policy recommendations in order to cope with the emerging challenges posed by the new US foreign policy objectives.
While speaking on the occasion Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the strategic relations between the US and India existed since long; however, President Clinton's tenure brought a noticeable strategic shift in the US policy towards South Asia, said a press release.
The Senator argued that Trump's policy was a continuation of that strategic shift. He acclaimed the response by government of Pakistan while referring to the statement issued by Defense and Interior ministers that “we have to put our own house in order".
He also appreciated government's efforts to sensitize the international community about the sacrifices and endeavors of Pakistan against terrorism; however, he maintained that it was more pertinent to sensitize institutions within Pakistan.
He suggested to revisit Pakistan's policy towards Afghanistan and banned militant groups.
He said that there should be no distinction among different groups of Taliban; they should be dealt with the same yardstick.
Babar said, “when an economically improvised, and socially, ethnically and politically divided country uses or appears to use non-state actors to project its power beyond its boundaries, it becomes extremely dangerous."
Chairman ISSI Khalid Mehmood highlighted the Chinese perspective regarding the new US strategy towards Afghanistan and South Asia.
He said a new war – Trump's war – was going to start in Afghanistan, as Chinese perceive, which was aimed at crushing Taliban, rather than nation-building.
He maintained that the USA wanted India to play an influential role in Indo-Pacific Region. Therefore, India has intensified its maneuverings in the Pacific region.
Dr. Shaheen Akhtar, Head of IR Department, National Defense University Islamabad also agreed with Mr Khalid regarding India's augmenting presence in Pacific region while highlighting India's role in the Evolving Regional Order under President Trump's Policy.
The US policy, she argued, should be analyzed through the prism of `emerging Asia super complex' in which China is emerging gradually.
Dr. Shaheen further said that the US wanted India to balance the emerging China at regional level.
Senator Afrasiab Khattak, while analyzing the Trump's policy, said that it contained smarter military strategy, with its focus on counter-terrorism and no timelines.
He labelled Obama's policy towards Afghanistan as a `bankrupt military strategy' while referring to the deployment of over hundred thousand troops in Afghanistan and announcing withdrawal plan at the same time.
However, the Trump's policy, Mr. Khattak claimed, was supposedly devised by military minds; therefore, it lacked political dimensions by excluding the major regional actors, including China, Russia and Central Asian states.
Former Senator categorized One Belt-One Road (OBOR) initiative of China as the foundation of the emerging New World Order.
He maintained that China was trying to translate its soft image into political influence. Russia was equally a key player in the region, said Mr Khattak.
He further added that the Taliban were never prime target of the US; rather, it was Al-Qaeda. However, Taliban might pose a threat to China and Russia.
Khattak was of the view that Pakistan supported Talibanization in Afghanistan during last couple of decades of the 20th century.
Pakistan, by and large, had to shift its policy from geo- strategic to geo-economic perspective, if it desired to achieve long-term foreign policy success in the region, he maintained.
Earlier, in the opening remarks, Prof. Dr. Javed Ashraf, Vice Chancellor Quaid-i-Azam University and Prof. Dr. Syed Waqar Ali Shah, Acting Director ASC and Dean Faculty of Social Sciences, welcomed the distinguished guests from different embassies including the US, Russia, France and Sweden, along with the members of think tanks, academicians, and students from different universities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
Dr. Syed Waqar Ali Shah also presented the university souvenirs to the respected speakers at the end of seminar.