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John Bolton, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, waves as he leaves Trump Tower, December 2, 2016.
President Donald Trump’s choice to tap John Bolton as national security advisor is widely expected to produce more hawkish U.S. foreign policy on rogue states such as North Korea and Iran. Pakistan, a country that’s long been a thorn in Washington’s side, could also be affected.
Islamabad was a crucial U.S. ally during Washington’s war on terror following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, but bilateral relations have worsened in recent years as the U.S. demands the country do more to fight Taliban-affiliated militants known as the Haqqani network.
Earlier this year, the Trump administration suspended military and security assistance to the South Asian nation. Many believe the president could follow-up by rescinding Pakistan’s non-NATO ally status or declaring Islamabad a state sponsor of terrorism.
“Bolton’s hardline views may translate into an even more aggressive rhetoric against Pakistan,” said Uzair Younus, director of consultancy Albright Stonebridge’s South Asia practice.
A hostile policy approach in the form of increased drone strikes, financial sanctions, or diplomatic isolation “would only harden Pakistan’s position and bring it closer to other regional powers,” such as Beijing, Moscow and Tehran, Younus cautioned.
The three countries, which are currently experiencing frosty ties with Washington, have steadily increased their influence in Pakistan in recent months.