Clash at the UN

DESPITE engagements at various levels, Pak-US relations remain on a knife-edge as contradictions are now openly being expressed by both sides at different forums. At the UN Security Council meeting on Afghanistan, both the sides locked horns with the US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan once again accusing Pakistan of providing sanctuaries to terrorists while Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi strongly countered that the US needs to address challenges inside Afghanistan rather than shifting the onus for ending the conflict onto others.
In fact, Ambassador Lodhi, in her speech, very pertinently pointed out the issues of terrorist safe havens in Afghanistan and the narcotics trade taking place from the warn torn country. Indeed it is for the US to do the reality check as despite staying in Afghanistan for the last one and half decades with all its military prowess, half of Afghanistan is still out of the control of Afghan government while drug trade is also booming under the US nose, which was non-existent when Taliban were ruling the country before 9/11. As regards safe havens, it defies common sense that why will Taliban operate from Pakistan when they are already occupying a large swath of land in Afghanistan. As far as Haqqani network is concerned, it is on record that most of its commanders have been killed in recent years in Afghanistan and Pakistan has repeatedly denied any organised presence of this group on its territory. Also, Haqqani is a small group when compared with the presence of other terrorist monsters such as IS (Daesh) in Afghanistan. Hence, making hue and cry on the group appears to be absurd and clearly indicates Haqqanis are the US’s opening gambit against Pakistan.
It is better if the US accepts reality and its failures in Afghanistan and restrain from externalising the blame. Then in fact, the super power also needs to answer the questions being raised about the growing drug trade in the conflict-ridden country. According to the latest report released by United Nations Office on Drugs and Narcotics (UNODC) poppy and opium production in Afghanistan has increased by a record high sixty three percent in 2017. In fact some of the US journalists and columnists themselves have admitted that the US has had a long history of facilitating the global drug trade to achieve its vested interests. In the case of Afghanistan, how is it possible that the US military equipped with most modern drones and surveillance system is failing to track down the supply routes of opium? This smacks of a foul play and clearly indicates the involvement of security forces in the illegal drug trafficking. So before pointing fingers, the US officials also need to do some soul searching and mend their approach. The way forward in Afghanistan is only through peacefully negotiated settlement owned and led by the Afghan people themselves. The recent US policy for the region is more likely to trigger more instability than bringing peace and stability. It is time for the US to reassess its policy vis-à-vis the region. Together with Pakistan, the US should support the peace process between the Afghan government and the Taliban in order to end miseries of the conflict ravaged Afghan people permanently. Instead of treading the path of containing others, the US needs to adopt a more positive and practical posture — one that is free of bloodshed, violence and promotes peace and progress in Afghanistan and in the region.

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