According to Bloomberg, a key plank of US President Donald Trump’s new strategy to turn around the 16-year conflict in Afghanistan will probably falter for a reason few of his voters would realize: China. On Monday, Trump publicly tried to pressure Pakistan to end safe havens for terrorists who are striking at Afghanistan. A day later, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson followed up Trump’s comments, adding that Pakistan “must adopt a different approach.” But this aspect of the Afghan strategy is likely to founder because of China’s increasingly close economic ties with Pakistan, which reduces American leverage. With more than $50 billion in planned infrastructure projects and strong diplomatic support for its positions, American threats to withdraw billions in military aid are becoming less worrying for the powerful army, which dominates foreign policy. With China’s role increasing, Pakistan’s forces have fewer incentives to stop covertly supporting insurgent groups that strike inside Afghanistan and arch-rival India.
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