Afghanistan Pakistan

Tillerson’s threat worse than an ultimatum – Ambassador Zafar Hilaly


During his visit to Pakistan, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly told the Pakistani leadership, “If Pakistan fails to act against terrorists, US will get it done in a different way.” Speaking at a news conference in Geneva on October 27 at the end of his foreign travel to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, Tillerson stated, “Here’s what we need for Pakistan to do. We’re asking you to do this; we’re not demanding anything. You’re a sovereign country. You’ll decide what you want to do, but understand this is what we think is necessary. And if you don’t want to do that, don’t feel you can do it, we’ll adjust our tactics and our strategies to achieve the same objective a different way.”

In response to Tillerson’s recent statement, former Ambassador Zafar Ali Hilaly, while speaking to CRSS, commented, “Tillerson’s threat is worse than an ultimatum. An ultimatum says ‘if you do not do as demanded we will move against you’. Tillerson says ‘whether you do or do not do our bidding we will move to ensure it is done’, regardless.

Hence, when and wherever the US determines the presence of ‘terrorists,’ as defined by the US, it will strike. That’s a recipe for war which may well be the American intention because let’s not forget that when losing in Vietnam the US expanded the war to include Cambodia and Laos. Indeed, had the American public not said enough the Vietnam War would likely have spread to China. Imagine, 58,000 American dead, with nothing to show for it, and still the American war machine was thirsting for more!

History is repeating itself in Afghanistan. Having lost the Afghan war the US is expanding the war to include Pakistan and India. Needless to say the result will be as predictable as that of Vietnam though monumentally bloodier.

Ambassador Hilaly went on to say that he maintains the following strategies, as also reiterated in his recent articles and TV Programs:

Pakistan may try to get the Tehreek-e-Taliban Afghanistan (TTA)/Haqqani Network (HN) onto the negotiating table, if possible.

Pakistan must not repeat, nor under any circumstances allow the “restart” of the War on Terror on its soil again.

Any operations by the US in Pakistan will seriously threaten the CPEC/OBOR initiatives and projects as they will be targeted in the garb of safe havens of terrorists.

If the powers that be, i.e., the US cannot delay, disrupt or destroy the CPEC/OBOR initiatives they will try to manifest the Balochistan Enterprise – and try to break Balochistan away from Pakistan. That meets all their objectives – TTA/HN tackled, CPEC/OBOR stalled/destroyed and Pakistan cut to size [joint Indo-US objectives].

This will delay, disrupt and may even forestall the emergence of China as a global economic power to challenge and eventually replace the US as the pre-eminent global economic power.

The emergence of China as an economic behemoth will reduce the US’ spheres of influence drastically.

Zafar Ali Hilaly is a senior political analyst and a former ambassador.

© Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) and Afghan Studies Center (ASC), Islamabad.


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