If Washington, and particularly the White House is serious about reining in Pakistan on its policy of supporting terrorism, there much it can do to ensure course correction and regional peace, an expert on South Asia has said.
In article written for and published by thedailybeast.com website, Bruce O. Riedel, an American expert on U.S. security, South Asia, and counter-terrorism, and currently Senior Fellow in the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, says it is essential for America and President Doanld Trump's bite to be stronger than its bark, and once and for all put to rest the belief in the corridors of power in Pakistan (civil and military), that Washington's latest broadside against Islamabad on the issue of terrorism is not again a case of "bluster".
Praising the Trump Administration for finally diagnosing the problem, Riedel, however, cautions it and the White House that now both face "the hard part (and) it won't be easy" to make Pakistan walk the talk.
"Pakistan is in the midst of a complex political meltdown, engineered by the army and others. New elections will come this year. But the need for urgency is also real, especially for our troops in Afghanistan. Congress should press for more than a tweet (by President Trump)," he says.
"A comprehensive approach that utilizes multiple tools - diplomatic, economic and covert - is best. Engagement with the elected leadership of Pakistan and also a reach out directly to the Pakistani people, the greatest victims of the ISI's blowback, should be incorporated. China and India should be consulted," he adds and suggests.
Riedel says that President Donald Trump's proclamation on Twitter is not one to be surprised about as it has been aired with regularity, pointedly and accurately over the past couple of months.
"Trump officials have been explicit and unequivocal about all this, including in the roll out of their Afghanistan policy and the overall presentation of security strategy," he says.
As far as the issue of giving USD 33 billion in aid to Islamabad over the past 15 years is concerned, Riedel says "More than $25 billion, was provided before the SEAL raid that found and killed Osama bin Laden hiding in the army cantonment city of Abbottabad in 2011. Withholding money is not much of a penalty, the $250 million in the pipeline is an insignificant threat."
Washington, he says, must alter Pakistan's assessment and take steps that are symbolic but important.
He says eight immediate steps can be taken. They are as follows:
.Washington could remove Pakistan from the category of a major non-NATO ally and deny it certain military technologies.
.The administration could also recall our ambassador and not replace him.
. Exploit President Trump's strong relationships with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as they are countries with large emigre Pakistani worker populations.
.The Trump team should press Crown Princes Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh and Mohammed bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi to not only shut down the Taliban's fund raising but to prosecute their funders even if they have royal connections. Both states have close ties to the ISI.
. Washington must pressure the Saudis and their Gulf allies to be committed to fighting the Afghan Taliban in more concrete terms.
. Saudis should use their considerable influence to cut ISI aid to the Taliban.
. The Trump Administration can label Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism, like Iran. This would cut off all assistance and engagement with Pakistan. It's a draconian step but the evidence clearly qualifies for Pakistan's designation.
. An alternative approach is to rely primarily on unilateral actions by American security services.