Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

The blame-game over Afghanistan


July 28, 2017

Reports have been appearing in the US media that the Trump administration is conducting an inter-agency policy review of its relations with Pakistan. During a Congressional hearing, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently stated that "We are beginning an inter-agency policy review towards Pakistan. This [continuation of US aid to Pakistan] is going to be one of the considerations." He further said, "Pakistan and our relationship with them touches on some much broader issues relative to stability in Afghanistan and how we achieve that, but also stability in the Indo-Pacific region. It is a very complex relationship we have with the government of Pakistan."

Tillerson is correct to state that the US has a very complex relationship with the government of Pakistan. In March 2017, Pakistan received only $550 million of the $900 million earmarked in 2016 under the head Coalition Support Fund (CSF). As it is, the Afghan intelligence, which has failed again and again to even protect Kabul, has been levelling baseless allegations against Pakistan. Every bomb in the Afghan capital or in the countryside is pinned on Pakistan. The Afghan officials are trying to influence the US media and think-tanks over their failures, trying to divert their attention. 

The Pakistan envoy to Washington, Mr Aizaz Chaudhary, has tried to put things in the right perspective. He said recently there’s “a tiny minority” in Washington, which keeps raising this issue of declaring Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism “but the bulk of American polity sees Pakistan as a partner in the war against terrorism." In his address to the World Affairs Council, Mr Chaudhary also said that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) should not affect relations between the United States and Pakistan and asked Afghanistan to take advantage of this opportunity as its first beneficiary. “It’s mainly in the economic domain that we want better relations with the United States,” said the ambassador. “We are getting positive vibes from the Trump administration. There are areas on which we can work. We understand that this relationship can be beneficial to both.”

Dan Feldman, who served as United States' Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan from 2014 to 2015, argues that “any long-term Afghanistan resolution requires integrated and comprehensive military and diplomatic leadership from the United States.” In a piece he wrote for The Chicago Tribune, he said: “And if that was the case when international forces were at their apex in Afghanistan several years ago, with close to 150,000 foreign troops on the ground, that’s even more the case now, with 13,000 international troops remaining.” 

Mr Feldman wrote that “the only feasible, sustainable, cost-effective, long-term resolution for Afghanistan is a negotiated political settlement between all parties, including the Taliban.” 

Therefore, any ‘tough love’ approach by Washington towards Pakistan has its limits and the US could soon find it had little leverage over Pakistan, which has to a large extent moved towards China and Russia and is no longer dependent on American aid or military equipment. The fact is that the United States is in no position to influence Pakistan’s security policies in a meaningful way. Thus, any attempt to coerce or isolate Pakistan will lead the country to move closer to China and Russia. 

In a policy review of its relations with Pakistan, the US should be realistic and address Pakistan’s strategic concerns and anxieties. 

Topstory minus plus

Opinion minus plus

Newspost minus plus

Editorial minus plus

National minus plus

World minus plus

Sports minus plus

Business minus plus

Karachi minus plus

Lahore minus plus

Islamabad minus plus

Peshawar minus plus