February 15, 2018
Image credit : illustrative images
WASHINGTON: Pakistan is increasing slipping out of United States’ grip and getting closer to China, several intelligence agencies told Trump administration.
“Seventeen US intelligence agencies have warned Congress that Pakistan will continue to slip out of America’s influence and into China’s orbit in 2019, and will become a threat to Washington’s interests in the South Asian region,” states a report in Pakistan daily Dawn.
These 17 agencies include the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), National Security Agency (NSA), and several others.
The agencies warned Pakistan will continue to threaten US interests by “deploying new nuclear weapons capabilities, maintaining its ties to militants, restricting counter terrorism cooperation, and drawing closer to China.”
Militant organisations will keep seeking refuge on Pakistan’s soil and plan attacks on India and Afganistan, the report adds.
India-Pakistan relationship in the meantime will remain tense, as violence continues on the Line of Control and “the risk of escalation if there is another high-profile terrorist attack in India or an uptick in violence on the Line of Control”.
India-China relations will also remain tense, said the agencies.
“The agencies informed Congress that in 2019, relations between India and China will remain tense and will possibly deteriorate further, despite the negotiated settlement to their three-month border standoff in August,” said the Dawn report.
Meanwhile, Pakistan on Wednesday threatened the US that any effort to bully them will be counterproductive.
Speaking to CNN, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said, “Any unilateral action in Pakistan will be a red line for Pakistan. Pakistanis are dignified people. We want to have a friendship which is based on mutual respect but any effort to try to bully Pakistan or force Pakistan will be counterproductive.”
He highlighted that Pakistan has lost about 60,000 people and suffered a $25 billion loss to its economy.
“We are committed to fighting terrorism. There is very nominal aid which is coming from the USAID or the United States to Pakistan. Pakistan is not fighting this war for the US aid, we are fighting this war for our people and the future of our people,” Iqbal said.
Over the last few months, the Trump administration has repeatedly warned Pakistan to stop sheltering terrorists. The US also suspended a $2 billion military aid to the nation.
Despite warnings, last year a Pakistani court released globally designated terrorist and Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed – the co-founder of Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief. Saeed, after his release, went on to form a political party and announced his decision to contest national polls.
Last week, the US and its allies – the United Kingdom, Germany and France approached international financial watchdog Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF’s) to blacklist Pakistan for funding terror activities.
The move can severely dent Pakistan’s economy.
Under pressure from the United States, Pakistan last week quietly pushed forward an ordinance that bans 27 terror groups including Saeed’s JuD.