Cracks deepen be­tween Pak­istan, US on Afghanistan, en­gage­ment needed

Global Times - - Forum - By Muham­mad Tahir The au­thor is a writer with the Xin­hua News Agency. The ar­ti­cle first ap­peared on Xin­hua. opin­ion@ glob­al­times. com. cn

A vast ma­jor­ity of Pak­ista­nis be­lieve that the US has failed in the war in Afghanistan de­spite us­ing all its mil­i­tary power in 17 years and US President Donald Trump has put more pres­sure on Pak­istan to find a scape­goat to con­vince Amer­i­cans.

In a ma­jor shift in his pre­elec­tion pledge to pull US troops out of Afghanistan, where the US forces have been in­volved in their long­est ever war, Trump has agreed to de­ploy more troops.

Pak­ista­nis also seemed up­set at the US president's ig­no­rance of Pak­istan's anti- ter­ror­ism role which has claimed about 73,000 Pak­istani lives, in­clud­ing over 6,000 se­cu­rity per­son­nel, since 2003 when Pak­istani troops were sent to tribal re­gions to fight against mil­i­tants, many of whom had been forced to cross the bor­der to Pak­istan due to US mil­i­tary ac­tion in Afghanistan.

Trump had warned that his ad­min­is­tra­tion can no longer be silent about “Pak­istan's safe havens for ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions, the Tal­iban, and other groups that pose a threat to the re­gion and be­yond. Pak­istan has much to gain from part­ner­ing with our ef­fort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by con­tin­u­ing to har­bor crim­i­nals and ter­ror­ists.”

Ex­perts in Pak­istan are unan­i­mous that Trump's new policy for South Asia is the con­tin­u­a­tion of the poli­cies of his pre­de­ces­sors, Barack Obama and Ge­orge W. Bush, to use the mil­i­tary op­tion in Afghanistan in­stead of press­ing for po­lit­i­cal ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Vet­eran Pak­istani diplo­mat Ayaz Wazir ar­gued that as the US is not win­ning the war in Afghanistan, it has started ac­cus­ing and putting more pres­sure on Pak­istan.

“This is a fact that Pak­istan is very im­por­tant and that is why Rus­sia and China op­posed pres­sure on Pak­istan af­ter President Trump un­veiled his re­view for the re­gion. Pak­istan's role is more im­por­tant even than the US in peace and sta­bil­ity in Afghanistan and the US should use this role,” Wazir told Xin­hua in a re­cent in­ter­view.

Se­nior se­cu­rity ex­pert Sayed Qaiser Hus­sain Shah opined that Trump has ad­mit­ted that US policy in Afghanistan has failed since the start of the war.

“As the new US policy is mainly shift­ing the blame to Pak­istan, the gov­ern­ment should in­crease its un­der­stand­ing and co­op­er­a­tion with Rus­sia, China, Iran and other re­gional coun­tries to jointly work for peace talks in Afghanistan,” Shah, who has served as Air Mar­shal in Pak­istan Air Force, told Xin­hua.

He pointed out that Kabul also lacks a clear policy to deal with the sit­u­a­tion and ef­forts for po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue in Afghanistan could re­duce the in­flu­ence of In­dia.

Rahimul­lah Yousafzai, the res­i­dent ed­i­tor of The News, said the US policy in South Asia is based on Trump's wishes, who un­for­tu­nately did not rec­og­nize Pak­istan's sac­ri­fices against ter­ror­ism.

Peo­ple in Pak­istan backed the gov­ern­ment's de­ci­sion to post­pone the visit to Wash­ing­ton by For­eign Min­is­ter Kh­waja Mo­ham­mad Asif in the wake of Trump's se­ri­ous ac­cu­sa­tions against Pak­istan. The visit was re­port­edly sched­uled for last week.

Act­ing As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary of State for South and Cen­tral Asian Af­fairs Alice Wells also had to post­pone her Pak­istan visit planned in this week on Pak­istan's re­quest amid ten­sions.

A se­nior Pak­istani of­fi­cial has told Xin­hua in Is­lam­abad that the coun­try had valid rea­sons to de­lay Asif's visit. “It would show our weak­nesses if the for­eign min­is­ter vis­its the US de­spite wild ac­cu­sa­tions and to dis­credit Pak­istan's un­prece­dented sac­ri­fices against ter­ror­ism,” said the of­fi­cial anony­mously.

He, how­ever, said Pak­istan would en­gage the US and there could be high- level con­tacts on the side­lines of the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly next month.

The of­fi­cial said Pak­istan is fo­cus­ing on con­sul­ta­tions with the re­gional coun­tries, in­clud­ing China, Rus­sia, Iran and Turkey, to jointly work for peace in Afghanistan and the re­gion.

Pak­istani po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, in­clud­ing op­po­si­tion par­ties, have showed rare unity against the new US policy and said the coun­try would not sur­ren­der to any threats.

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