A compelling message to Washington

BOTH the civilian and military leadership have sent an unambiguous message to the United States that its approach of making Pakistan as a scapegoat is unacceptable and its new strategy, which is highly flawed, is unlikely to stabilise the war-torn Afghanistan. After a lengthy session of the National Security Committee under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Thursday, the top decision-making body in the realm of national security and defence, showed mirror to the United States by recounting successes of Pakistani forces in the war against terror and American failures in Afghanistan that have turned that country into a safe haven for terrorists and the resultant instability in Afghanistan posing great threat not just to Pakistan but the entire region.
The policy response of Pakistan contains elements that, if accepted and implemented by the other side, could help resolve the tricky Afghan conflict, providing face-saving to the United States to leave the country with some grace. Washington has been told in plain words that a politically negotiated outcome remains the best option to bring stability to this war torn country. A prolonged military campaign in Afghanistan has resulted in destruction and killing of hundreds of thousands of Afghan civilians. Americans have made it a fashion to shift entire burden of their failures on Pakistan accusing the country of not taking action against some terrorist outfits especially dreaded Haqqani network prompting the NSC to point out that Pakistan would like to see effective and immediate US military efforts to eliminate sanctuaries harbouring terrorists and miscreants on the Afghan soil including those responsible for fomenting terror in Pakistan. They have been told that Afghan war cannot be fought in Pakistan and hopefully this message would go in the right perspective. The United States is misleading the world to believe that Pakistan is not cooperating despite receiving billions of dollars but the Committee exposed the claim by telling the US that the reimbursements to Pakistan since 2001 only account for part of the cost of ground facilities and air corridors used by the United States for its operations in Afghanistan, rather than any financial aid or assistance. As against this, a poor country like Pakistan has been made to suffer economic losses to the tune of $120 billion besides invaluable loss of human lives. Who will mitigate this loss? The NSC also raised the issue of India’s greater role in Afghanistan, highlighting that India cannot be a net security provider in South Asia when it has strained relationship with all its neighbours and is openly pursuing a policy of destabilisation against Pakistan both from the east and the west. We would point out that all these things are known to the United States but their main objective is to squeeze Pakistan from all directions and therefore, it would be naïve to expect that Washington would change its policy especially when it also plans to use India against rising China. Expression of concern and apprehensions about safety and security of Pakistani nukes by the US officials these days has nothing to do with the ground reality as there has been no such issue during the last over two decades. The United States has been openly appreciating the robust nature of the command and control system but the bogey of nukes falling into the hands of terrorists is raised off and on to put pressure on Pakistan and is also reflective of the longstanding desire of denuclearising the country. While appreciating the clear stance and a firm response to the US strategy by the NSC, we would point out that mere statements would not bring about any meaningful change in the ground situation. The Committee has declared intention to take the friendly countries into confidence and that could pay back as already both China and the Russian Federation have rejected this policy and declared US pressure on Pakistan as unjustified. However, we should also draw redlines in case Pakistan’s sovereignty is violated in any manner or its national interests harmed at the altar of Indian friendship.

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