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The still-evolving Afghan strategy is leading to consultative meetings between Afghan, US, and Pakistani officials. In order to discuss the Afghan imbroglio and the role of Pakistan in the region, a delegation of the US Army Central Command (CENTCOM) is on a visit to Pakistan. The Pakistan Army has reiterated that it will continue to support US and Afghan forces for peace in Afghanistan. COAS, General Qamar Javed Bajwa said: “Pakistan has undertaken operations against terrorists of all hue and color”.

Islamabad has to be meaningfully engaged so that it can play an important role in the all-important negotiations processes in Afghanistan

The CENTCOM was led by its commander, General Joseph Votel. The Pakistani side was well-represented; the COAS was joined-in by DG ISI, Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar, DGMO, Maj Gen Shamshad and DG ISPR, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor.

The ISPR dished-out details of the meeting through a press release. The Army Chief was quoted as saying: “More than financial or material assistance, we seek acknowledgment of our decades-long contributions towards regional peace and stability, understanding of our challenges and most importantly the sacrifices Pakistani nation and its security forces have rendered in the fight against terrorism and militancy.”

Read more: Why is Pakistan reconsidering its role in the Islamic Military Alliance

The meeting was held the day President Trump was deliberating upon the much-awaited Afghan strategy at Camp David. The worsening security situation in Afghanistan on behest of the relentless Taliban and ISIS-K compelled the US to look for a new strategy.

The new military-heavy policy, whether carried-out by contractors or military personnel is not likely to put a tap on the insurgency

Trump has outsourced the task of promulgating the strategy. The contours of the new strategy as evidenced by statements of defense chief Jim Mattis and others will be military-heavy and applicable to Pakistan too.

Thus far, Washington is dithering over the finalization of the all-important Af-Pak strategy. Many have warned against sending more troops, for it would make the Taliban and ISIS-K more brazen. Though nothing is clear as of now, it is a gainsay that the US will beef up the offensive and will stay here for long.

Pakistan on the frontline 

Ties between Pakistan and the US are not healthy. The latter calls upon to act against the Haqqani Network. It blames Pakistan for the restive situation in Afghanistan, to which Pakistan retorts by saying that it has done a lot. General Bajwa accentuated that no other country had a greater interest in peace in Afghanistan than Pakistan.

Read more: Islamic Military Alliance: Give it a chance it might actually become…

Despite the gravity of the situation and the pivotal role played by Pakistan, ties between both countries are far from normal. Last month, the Pentagon did not reimburse a major chunk of the Coalition Support Fund; efforts are afoot to end Pakistan’s Non-Nato ally status; the US is all-set to toughen its stance towards Pakistan.

The changing geopolitical dynamics which include the increasing competitiveness between China and the US are likely to affect Pak US ties negatively, to say the least

Pakistan has even undertaken military operations to forestall ISIS-K in the country; the COAS has hence alluded to the sacrifices of Pakistanis in the War on Terror. The tumultuous Afghan situation has got much to do with a directionless US strategy in the country, which has been unable to translate initial tactical gains into major strategic breakthroughs.

Pakistan has therefore taken serious exceptions to the allegations of Washington and Kabul. The latter has ramped up its vitriol against Pakistan despite the fact that a feeble and fragmented NUG has been unable to stem the flow of the Taliban.

Read more: The specter of civil-military tensions is stirring, yet again…?

The US has brushed aside Pakistani concerns over Kashmir and has designated M Salahuddin and Hizbul Mujahideen as a terrorist and terrorist organization, respectively

Pak-US ties have also vitiated due to Washington’s growing bonds with New Delhi. The US has brushed aside Pakistani concerns over Kashmir and has designated M Salahuddin and Hizbul Mujahideen as a terrorist and terrorist organization, respectively.

There is a great deal of consternation over these moves in Islamabad. The changing geopolitical dynamics which include the increasing competitiveness between China and the US are likely to affect Pak US ties negatively, to say the least.

Peace in Afghanistan is most coveted but by the looks of things, it seems untenable today. The new military-heavy policy, whether carried-out by contractors or military personnel is not likely to put a tap on the insurgency. Islamabad has to be meaningfully engaged so that it can play an important role in the all-important negotiations processes in Afghanistan. COAS’ demand of admission and acknowledgment is the first step towards that end-state.

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