Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said that US President Donald Trump’s strategy for Afghanistan will meet the same fate as the plans of his predecessors. Failure.
“From day one we have been saying very clearly the military strategy in Afghanistan has not worked and it will not work,” Abbasi told Bloomberg in an interview on Saturday night in Karachi. There has to be a ‘political settlement,’ he added. “That’s the bottom-line.”
Abbasi said while his government supports the fight against terrorists it won’t let the war in Afghanistan spill into Pakistan.
Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa made a similar statement in a meeting with his Afghan counterpart Gen Sharif Yaftali in a meeting in Dushanbe on the sidelines of a meeting of the Quadrilateral Cooperation and Coordination Mechanism (QCCM) on Sunday.
This show Pakistan’s civil leadership and military commanders are on the same page vis-à-vis President Trump’s strategy for Afghanistan and beyond.
Pakistan’s stance may complicate Trump’s plan for the region after he pledged more US troops for Afghanistan and called on Pakistan to stop providing a ‘safe haven for terrorists’.
Trump’s failure to resolve the Afghan war risks even greater financial and human cost for the US, as it could leave the country bogged down further in the conflict, and may become a further sore point for ties with China and Pakistan. The Afghan war has already cost the US about $714 billion and several thousand lives.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Sunday said the new strategy is intended to pressure the Taliban into negotiating with the Afghan government by “sending a message to the Taliban that we are not going anywhere”.
“I think the president’s been clear that this is a dramatic shift in terms of the military strategy,” Tillerson said on the ‘Fox News Sunday’ TV programme. He said US moves would be “dictated by conditions on the ground, informed by battlefield commanders”.
“The president was clear that he’s not setting any arbitrary timelines,” Tillerson said. “Our patience is not unlimited.”
Afghanistan’s government is slowly losing its hold over the country with the Taliban now controlling about 40% of the country, which US officials say could not have been possible without help from Pakistan’s military – a charge vehemently denied by Islamabad.
The US in previous offensives in Afghanistan used drones to attack alleged terrorists in Pakistan. NATO troops have also used Pakistani ports and roads to move equipment into land-locked Afghanistan.
“We do not intend to allow anybody to fight Afghanistan’s battle on Pakistan’s soil,” Abbasi said during the interview. “Whatever has to happen in Afghanistan should be happening in Afghanistan,” he said, adding Pakistan doesn’t harbour terrorists.
In its reaction to Trump’s policy, China said the international community should acknowledge the important contributions of Pakistan and sacrifices in the war against terrorism. It has also called on the United States that Pakistan’s sovereignty should be respected.
Russia has also warned that piling up pressure on Pakistan would ‘seriously destabilise the region-wide security situation”.
Pakistan Army has been conducting its own offensive against terrorists, with the latest operation in the Rajgal Valley of Khyber Agency concluding earlier this month.
More than 60,000 people have been killed, while Pakistan’s economy has suffered a loss of about $120 billion from waging war at home against terrorists, according to the finance ministry.
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