WASHINGTON: Pakistan has indicated it might go for broke against the United States with ties between the two countries reaching a new low.
Enraged at being called out by President Trump for nurturing terrorist groups, Islamabad is said to have devised a ”three-option toughest diplomatic policy,” including an extreme case scenario where it will block access for US and Nato military supplies to land-locked Afghanistan.
Actions prior to this will include, according to the Pakistani media, limiting diplomatic relations with US and reducing mutual cooperation on terrorism-related issues and non-cooperation in US strategy for Afghanistan+ .
Pakistan has also warned that it will not buy any more F-16s from the US, and will lean towards China in the future.
Small problem for Pakistan: Washington is not about to blink.
After giving Pakistan a taste of the kind of financial vulnerability it is under by banning operations in the US of Habib Bank, the country’s leading financial institution, for regulatory violations, the Trump administration has indicated it has more weapons up its sleeve.
Among them: Stripping Pakistan of the status of a non-Nato ally , cutting off all aid, imposing travel ban on suspected ISI personnel in the US operating undercover, and finally, formal designation of Pakistan as a terrorist state.
Withdrawal of non-Nato ally status and designating it a terrorist state would limit weapons sales and probably affect billions of dollars in IMF and World Bank loans, along with access to global finance, the Financial Times reported over the weekend.
Pakistan partisans in the US have long argued that the country is ”too big to fail” and applying too much pressure on it will push it into China’s arms, but the Trump administration appears to have reckoned that the country is already firmly in the Chinese camp, and Beijing can do little to stave off a financial meltdown if Washington decides to put the squeeze on a country whose elites have greater affinity for London and New York than for Beijing.
Talk of a western visa ban terrifies Pakistani military and political elites such as General Musharraf and Nawaz Sharif who own prime property and camp out in the west whenever things get too hot at home.
Pakistan bravado in threatening to cut off US access to Afghanistan came ahead of a possible meeting of its new Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi with vice-president Mike Pence in New York on sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
President Trump appears to have little time or patience with a country whose proliferation activities are being recalled again following North Korea’s aggravations in the nuclear and ballistic missile sphere .