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US officials have called Pakistan an important ally and one that can bring  Taliban to the talking table. Pakistan is an ally on counterterrorism issues and will be essential for bringing the Afghan Taliban to the table for peace talks, says acting Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Tina Kaidanow.

The US is adamant upon Pakistan clamping down the Haqqani Network, which it feels is being espoused by Pakistan.  Regardless of these debates the US has limited the reimbursement of carrots and has taken to sticks. The situation in Afghanistan has dictated the new shift.

Adding to it was US State Department’s spokesperson, Heather Nauert. “He said “the United States and Pakistan have a close partnership on regional peace, security, prosperity, and stability. And we continue to work with the government of Pakistan on areas — many areas of mutual interest, including counterterrorism.”

However, most voices in Washington have called for severing ties with Islamabad and have called upon the US to declare it a sponsor of terrorism.  Some have gone on to suggest launching strikes inside Pakistan.

The US is adamant upon Pakistan clamping down the Haqqani Network, which it feels is being espoused by Pakistan.  Regardless of these debates the US has limited the reimbursement of carrots and has taken to sticks. The situation in Afghanistan has dictated the new shift.  The conduct of ties does not resonate with the ally status that some voices in Washington are giving to Pakistan.

Read more: US encourages Pakistan-Afghanistan talks and reconciliation with Taliban looks on…

Trusting guns not tables

The sound, smoke, and fog of blasts in Afghanistan reverberate far away from the region in Washington. The Afghan conundrum and its likely solutions are under intense discussions in the US over the last few months. As the Taliban and the ISIS step up their campaign against the Afghan and foreign forces, the US is all in readiness to promulgate a new Afghan policy.

The war-fighting capabilities of the Afghan Forces have been beaten comprehensively by the Taliban over the past two months; this is chiefly responsible for making the US revert to its old  Afghan strategy.

The Trump Administration has given the discretion of deciding to send thousands of more troops in Afghanistan, clearing the way for the military to ramp up its fight against the Taliban and the Islamic State in the region. It is expected that the US will be in for a long haul

The decision is expected to be announced this week. After conversations and indications to the effect since the employment of MOAB in April, the US is all set to pander to the views of field commanders in Afghanistan. The war-fighting capabilities of the Afghan Forces have been beaten comprehensively by the Taliban over the past two months; this is chiefly responsible for making the US revert to its old  Afghan strategy.

Earlier this month  Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the U.S. is “not winning” the war in Afghanistan and that he was ready to take measures to address the blatant resurrection of the Taliban and the meteoric rise of the IS Khorasan Group.

But the bottom line is we’re not going to surrender civilization to people who cannot win at the ballot box

The refocus on the military plan is being done at the expense of talks with the Taliban. Last week James Mattis unequivocally refused talks with the Taliban. “”They use bombs because ballots would ensure they never had a role to play,” he said.

He vehemently stated that the Taliban could never be part of a democratic Afghanistan and avowed it quite categorically.

“As far as Afghanistan goes, as Secretary Tillerson said, the policy is under review, but at the same time, we’re up against an enemy that knows that they cannot win at the ballot box, and you think—we have to sometimes remind ourselves of that reality. That’s why they use bombs because ballots would ensure they never had a role to play, and based on that foundation, that they cannot win the support, the affection, the respect of the Afghan people. We will stand by them. They’ve had a long, hard fight, and Australia has been in this one from the very beginning, and the fight goes on. But the bottom line is we’re not going to surrender civilization to people who cannot win at the ballot box,” he categorically said.

He said this the very day President Ghani offered an olive branch to the Taliban during his opening remarks in the Kabul Process meeting.

Read more: Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US Joins hands to fight Daesh in…

More sticks for Islamabad

The acknowledgment of Pakistan’s role in peace efforts in Afghanistan is a step in the positive direction on part of the US. At the outset, it is important to understand that given the tenuous situation in Afghanistan, healthy Pak-US ties are essential. However, the US is trying to twist Islamabad’s arm, something which will further vitiate ties between the two countries.

Last month the Trump Administration made a cut of US $100 million compared to the previous time – in its annual budget proposals under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), a Pentagon program to reimburse US allies that have incurred costs in supporting counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations.

A drone strike reportedly killed a commander of the highly-vaunted  Haqqani network in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Hangu district, security sources said Tuesday.

The Afghan government along with Washington have accused Pakistan of harboring and supporting elements inimical to peace in the country. The US has been vociferous in asking Pakistan to “do more “  especially against the Haqqani Network. The resumption of drone strikes inside Pakistan is part of US new policy which also applies to Pakistan.

The reference to Pakistan was made by NSA McMaster last month. ““And so what we’ll have at the end of the next few weeks here is an opportunity for a much more effective strategy for the problem set in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the region broadly,” Gen McMaster said last month.

Read more: Bringing Afghanistan & Pakistan close: Will China’s efforts bear fruit?

The US has already started to squeeze Pakistan. Last month the Trump Administration made a cut of US $100 million compared to the previous time – in its annual budget proposals under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), a Pentagon program to reimburse US allies that have incurred costs in supporting counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations. Besides,  the administration has proposed $344 million in financial assistance to Pakistan including $100 million in foreign military funding, a massive $190 million reduction in the grant as compared to the 2016 fiscal year.

Such browbeating does not work with a principle ally in Pakistan and will be inimical to achieving peace in Afghanistan and the region.

1 COMMENT

  1. One must not believe in US when they say Pak is their ‘so called ally’.
    On the other hand have sanctions against seven of Pak companies including NESCOM

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