Old rhetoric from Washington

THE long-awaited Afghan policy of the United States has sprung no surprises and details shared by US President Donald Trump with his people and nations across the globe through his address convey a vivid message that Washington has lost options in Afghanistan. What transpired after months of consultations is a policy that envisages no timeline for withdrawal from Afghanistan, a surge in troops but the number has been kept by Trump to his chest, reliance on use of force and same old threats to Pakistan to cooperate in the war against terror.
The solution of the Afghan conflict lies in withdrawal of foreign occupation forces and initiation of a Grand National reconciliation process fully owned by Afghan people and that includes all segments of the society. Taliban recently wrote a letter to the American President urging him to withdraw his forces from Afghanistan but Trump has, instead, announced that he would not go for hasty withdrawal as was done in Iraq and would stay engaged in Afghanistan for an unspecified period. This effectively means prolongation of the conflict for an indefinite period as Afghans would never tolerate foreign occupation of their homeland and would resist it through all means. Despatch of more troops to Afghanistan also means that the United States would depend more on use of force than the course advised by Pakistan i.e. peace process and engagement with Taliban for which Islamabad has always extended its unconditional support. And begging India for cooperation in fighting terrorism in Afghanistan is an indirect message that Washington would rely on Delhi at the cost of national interests of Pakistan, ignoring complaints of Pakistan that India was using its presence in Afghanistan to destabilise the country. More importantly asking Pakistan to do more is nothing but an admission of American failure in Afghanistan. The United States has spent over one trillion dollars in Afghanistan and enlisted support of about fifty countries to fight terror but the outcome is far from satisfactory. Pakistan is an easy scapegoat and it is good luck of Pakistan that it is not being held responsible for American failure in Vietnam. Threats to choke funding or assistance for Pakistan would be counter-productive as we are not an oil producing country and cannot afford to fight for decades at the cost of national progress and development.

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