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Mudda panellists feel that Trump’s tweet and threat of cutting aid is a victory for India’s foreign policy; however, only time will tell if it isn’t mere grandstanding on the part of the US president

US President Donald Trump has accused Pakistan of lying and deceiving the United States while receiving billions of dollars in foreign aid. In his first tweet of the year, he alleged that Pakistan harboured terrorists.

The US is considering withholding more than $255 million in aid that it delayed sending to Islamabad in August.

APN’s popular debate Mudda took up the issue of Pakistan and US relations. Anchorperson Anant Tyagi posed the questions to panellists Omkar Nath Singh of the Congress, Ashok Goyal of the BJP, foreign affairs expert Dr SK Dutta, Muslim affairs expert Ajmal Khan, defence experts Brig Amrit Kapur and Col Fashi Ahmed, and Govind Pant Raju, consultant, APN.

Hailing the move, Dr Dutta said that it’s a turning point in Pakistan and US relations, and also in US relations with India.  “But cutting aid is not enough,” he said. “Pakistan has to be brought to its knees.”

Col Ahmed said “it’s good news but let’s wait and watch what happens next” regarding the promised aid. “After all, it’s just a tweet,” he said. Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj upcoming meet with Commander of the US Central Command, Gen James Matiz, is to be watched. “Trump is known to take bold initiatives, so the move is typical in a way,” he added.

Raju said the US has already decided to halt the aid, but it’s to be seen what happens next. The aid should not be released at a later stage, he said. “Pakistan has been making a fool of the world, and is sort of a terror factory, using anti-terrorism funds to fuel terrorism,” he added.

Brig Kapur said it’s the beginning of a novel policy by the Trump administration, and shows how India’s foreign policy has helped. “This is a bold step and Pakistan has been stumped. The US was under compulsion, and is worried that the nuclear arsenal should not be in hands of terrorists. I give complete credit to Modi’s foreign policy,” he said.

Singh said the move should not be seen as a victory of Modi’s vision. It’s just a warning to Pakistan, he said.

Dr Dutta said that the USA realises that if it wants to tackle China, it has to please India. The US wants to contain Pakistan and China as well. “Pakistan is certainly worried now,” he added.

Goyal said that it’s great news at the start of the year. India has been telling the world that Pakistan is a terrorism sponsoring nation. “The Modi government has been able to change the perception of the US, and that’s a great achievement. This money used to go to the Haqqani brothers and Kashmir terrorists. It’s certainly a win for India,” he said.

Khan said that the “tweet is great news, but I would like to see results on ground”.

Dutta said that former US President Barrack Obama was a liberal, but Trump is far bolder, and this is helping India. “America needs to take such moves, because China is emerging as a huge threat in the subcontinent,” he added.

Raju said that US is looking out for its own interests, not so much as India’s.

Brig Kapur said the indirect effect of the US policy will go in favour of India. “US aid is not used to contain terrorists but is diverted to arm terrorists, so that should help India,” he said.

Col Ahmed said that Al-Qaeda founder Bin Laden was the result of US funding, so cutting funds will break Pakistan’s backbone. “But Pentagon works in layers, and there are other countries that will fund Pakistan. Trump first visited Saudi Arabia because that’s a potential source where funds can be diverted, so I am a little apprehensive and would like to see the ground reality,” he said, adding that “Kashmir is our fight which we have to fight on our own”.

Goyal insisted it’s a win for the Modi government. Singh said it’s a welcome step and will help India.

Dutta said that Pakistan has been with China, like in the One Belt One Road plan, so the US is worried. “This relationship has to be neutralised, so the US has to walk hand-in-hand with India,” he said.

Khan said India should take its own steps to finish terrorists. Raju said India has been able to take its message on foreign platforms.

Compiled by Niti Singh Bhandari

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