10:19 GMT +321 July 2018
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    A US Predator unmanned drone armed with a missile setting off from its hangar at Bagram air base in Afghanistan. File photo

    Pakistan Pushback: Trump Terror Comments Draw Fire From Islamabad

    © AFP 2018 / Bonny Schoonakker
    Military & Intelligence
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    Instead of blindly supporting new US military moves in the Middle East, Pakistan is now pushing back against an increasingly strident White House that has stooped to using social media as a means of negotiation and diplomacy.

    The 16-year US war in Afghanistan has, under current President Donald Trump, seen a sharp uptick in the deployment of troops, weapons and logistical support, resulting in renewed pressure on neighboring Pakistan to increase its participation, and a concurrent increase in pushback from Islamabad — particularly following Trump tweets.

    Last week the Pakistani senate passed a resolution suggesting that Islamabad demand financial compensation from the US for killings and property damage caused by frequent Pentagon drone strikes.

    The legislation comes in the wake of a long term use of drones for extrajudicial assassinations in Pakistan and Afghanistan by the US that has been scarred by multiple accidents in which unmanned Pentagon aircraft delivered high explosives, killing innocent civilians.

    The Pentagon, by its own admission, has detailed that it rarely, if ever, is able to document who and how many are killed, relying instead on reports from citizenry on the ground and then moving quickly to refute that data where expedient.

    The current government of Pakistan is well aware that Trump has loosened combat restrictions placed on the Pentagon, allowing the US military a much broader latitude to pick and choose where it will aggressively engage, without getting permission from the White House first.

    Human rights lawyer Jen Gibson — with the UK advocacy group Reprieve, specializing in counterterrorism and the US drone campaign — notes that pressure on Islamabad to "fight terrorism the American way" is arriving from all points of the Trump administration, most recently by Trump himself, who resorted to Twitter to post his belief that Pakistan provided "safe havens" to Islamists and declaring "that will have to change…immediately," cited by Defense One.

    "Part of what's probably driving what's going on right now […] comes amidst a ramping up of the rhetoric of the Trump administration in relation to Pakistan," Gibson stated.

    US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and US Defense Secretary James Mattis have chimed in to support the Trump administration party line.

    Mattis, according to the Pentagon, stated that "Pakistan must redouble its efforts to confront militants and terrorists operating within the country," while Tillerson has made similar diplomatic gambits that have resulted only in angering Islamabad.

    Trump's increasingly rhetorical threats against Pakistan have resulted in several counter declarations, including from the Pakistan Air Force Chief, Marshal Sohail Aman, who has threatened to shoot down US drones entering Pakistani airspace.

    Related:

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    Tags:
    Drone Program, drone war, White House, Pentagon, General James Mattis, Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump, Washington DC, Afghanistan, United States, Islamabad, Pakistan
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