Confusing signals from Washington

SENIOR US commander Gen Joseph Votel who paid a 2-day visit to Pakistan that also took him to North Waziristan, which was once home to some of the most violent terrorist groups, emphasised sustained cooperation with Pakistan and welcomed Islamabad’s commitment to bilateral ties. He also wrapped up his visit with remarks that he had increased understanding of the counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency efforts of the Pakistan government.
Similar sentiments were expressed by other US military leaders who interacted with their Pakistani counterparts and visited both North and South Waziristan that have been tamed due to relentless efforts and sacrifices of Pakistani people and forces. However, confusing signals are emanating from Washington for the last several months with consistent reports that aid, especially the military aid, is going to diminish citing less than expected cooperation by Pakistan in the war against terror. In fact, Congress has already withheld a substantial amount and media reports after President Trump’s huddle with senior military and civilian aides at Camp David on Friday also spoke of a tough approach towards Pakistan besides increase in the level of troops in neighbouring Afghanistan and a new policy aimed at exploiting enormous mineral potential of the country as part of the strategy to fulfil pledges made by Trump with American people regarding boosting of economy and creation of more job opportunities. If a long drawn and delayed consultative process leads to formation of such a policy then one fails to understand what is the difference between previous and the new policies. Pressurising Pakistan and urging it to do more and use of both carrot and stick for the purpose have been old and tried policies of the United States since long while surge in troops would mean continuation rather complication of the messy situation in Afghanistan. If 140,000 foreign troops (that were there at the height of war) could not stabilise Afghanistan despite savage carpet bombing and merciless killings then it is hard to imagine that ten thousand would make a difference except more casualties for Afghan National Army, which has so far suffered over 22,000 casualties as it is made to fight on the front. And eyes on Afghan mineral wealth would expose the real objective of the war and continued occupation of Afghanistan by the United States. We believe that none of the three elements of the proposed policy would yield the desired results and peace would come to the war-torn country only if sincere efforts are made to resolve the conflict through a national dialogue, under the auspices of a recognised international forum.

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