27 August 2018

A Year On, Pakistan Still the Weak Link in U.S. South Asia Strategy

by Alyssa Ayres - Defense One

One year ago, President Donald J. Trump outlined a new South Asia strategy in a speech at Fort Myer. In his speech, the president did three things: one, he shifted the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan from a timetable approach to a conditions-based approach; two, he publicly upbraided Pakistan for ostensibly being a U.S. ally while simultaneously providing safe haven to terrorists, the Afghan Taliban, and others; and three, he called upon India to do more in Afghanistan as an economic assistance and development partner.

Here’s what I wrote about this speech at the time: “The Not-So-New ‘New’ South Asia Strategy.” The upshot: the supposedly “new” approach drew on elements of the Barack Obama administration’s strategy that were already in place, and marked in many ways a continuation of past policies. (The president’s sharp remarks about Pakistan—“we can no longer be silent”—did mark a departure in tone, and certainly elevated the level of public U.S. dissatisfaction. Trump’s New Year’s Day tweet about Pakistan’s “lies and deceit” further abandoned all diplomatic niceties.)

One year on, it’s fair to ask how things are going. The answer: not terribly well…

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