FRIENDS OF THE UNITED STATES

President Donald Trump considers Prime Ministers Imran Khan of Pakistan and Narendra Modi of India as friends. Both gentlemen could boost Mr. Trump's ego by helping him to fulfill his expectation.

Given the history of atrocities perpetrated by the Taliban it is difficult to believe that this collective if murderous organizations consisted of disparate groups is willing to forsake its methods of work which is the deliberate killing of the unarmed and innocent. If it did it would be a great achievement. "We will see, what happens" - has been Mr. Trump's statement as to his administration's involvement in the negotiation. Mr. Trump, like many of his countrymen believes that Pakistan has leverage over the Taliban and that Pakistan could influence them. As Prime Minister, Imran Khan could reach out to them. They in turn could move the needle of the peace process a notch further. In order to maintain peace and stability in Afghanistan, Pakistan's cooperation is absolutely necessary. Both Pakistan and Afghanistan have a sizable Pastun population who are culturally and emotionally connected. A disgruntled Pakistan next door poses an existential problem for Afghanistan. Pakistan has been sheltering many Taliban leaders with whom the Trump administration is engaged in a negotiation. The war in Afghanistan has been going on for 18 years and must end.

India, on the other hand, is a powerful economy. Both as a consumer and producer India is far ahead of its neighbors. Donald Trump wants to save jobs and create opportunities for his countrymen. Like China, India can help in both ways. India's democracy could create influence in Afghanistan. Instead of battling each other with weapons, Parties there could settle their ideological disagreements through ballots. Indians could help Afghans to establish a baseline. India also could train their experts in various disciplines who are absolutely necessary to build a new Afghanistan. Having India as a friend in Asia cuts down the influence of China in the area. India is populous and affluent. It just completed its 72nd year as a democracy without missing a beat.

In recent years India has become extraordinarily important to serve American interests for two reasons: Its ability to purchase goods and services from the US - especially billions of dollars' worth of military hardware; India as a counterweight to China both economically and militarily. Right now, the Trump administration is locking horns with China on trade issues. Without a solution the relationship between the two countries could sour which could create discord in other areas. A good relationship with India is like hedging a bet. From the US point of view a rising power of India in Asia is a good thing.

Pakistan's duplicity over the years has alienated American public. American administrations one after another have expressed concern and frustration to Pakistani leaders. The Obama administration laid down conditions while giving the third largest aid amount from taxpayer's money. Which the Trump administration completely stopped. By doing so it inadvertently pushed Pakistan deeper into China's fold. As a client, Pakistan could enhance China's program "road and belt. "But China does not have the same resources as the United States. Then there is the issue of Baluchistan. Without its solution Pakistan could be fragmented again. Embracing Pakistan, an Islamic Republic, could embolden the Uighurs in China. Millions of them are in revolt who want their Islamic identity and cultural freedom. Communist China is not ready to honor their demands. India's Muslim population could help the Uighurs.

It is not a pretty sight for any American President when two of the country's friends get locked in a fight. Trump is no exception. His foreign policy, because it lacks clarity and consistency, is difficult to take seriously. Therefore he is itching to mediate between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. He has said that Mr. Modi requested him to intervene. However, the president's track record of telling the truth needs work. Therefore, we have no choice but go with Mr. Modi's denial of ever asking him to intervene in Kashmir. It is high time that India and Pakistan put their heads together to find a solution acceptable to both sides.


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