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Thursday, February 15, 2024

How will the US withdrawal impact Pakistan?

Fahad Qureshi, a political analyst, discusses how Pakistan will directly be affected by US withdrawal. As it shares a border with Afghanistan, Pakistan may have to face some serious consequences.

After decades of war against terrorist groups in Afghanistan, US President Joe Biden announced a full troop exit from the country by the 11th of September. The US is keen to withdraw completely from Afghanistan and currently, they are doing everything possible to make it happen by the deadline. It is going to be a test not just for the United States but also for Pakistan.

Pakistan shares a long border with Afghanistan and will have to face the consequences once the US withdraws its army. Pakistan was part of negotiations with Top US officials and the Taliban. It played a major part to get all parties on the table to settle this issue, as per the wishes of the US.

Read more: Pakistan’s role is crucial to Afghan peace process: US, Russia, China

It was unexpected that the US, later into the negotiations, didn’t find it important to involve Pakistan or take it into confidence regarding the progress. Ever since Joe Biden took charge as President of the United States, Pakistan hoped for a change in the policy of the US as it thought that it will be a lot easier to negotiate things with Joe Biden, what with him being a seasoned politician and someone who understood the politics of South-Asia.

During Donald Trump’s presence in the White House, Pakistan had high-level contacts with US officials but Pakistan expected this to be better with the Biden Administration in charge. Since the US general elections and the Biden administration coming into power, there has been no high-level contact between the two countries, which is hard to believe since the US is in the progress of leaving Afghanistan.

It seemed as if the US totally ignored Pakistan’s effort in the fight against terrorism over the years and the positive role it played in negotiations.

Read more: ‘Pakistan sixth largest country in the world cannot be ignored by the US’: GVS exclusive interview with…

CIA chief’s secret visit

According to the New York Times, the CIA Chief visited Pakistan to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan, along with military and intelligence leadership for cooperation between the two countries. The US completely ignored the fact that Pakistan was helping them in negotiations and then the decision of withdrawal came without taking Pakistan into any confidence.

It is not hard to understand that Pakistan will face large implications of this decision because, unlike the US, Pakistan shares a border with Afghanistan. After deciding to sideline Pakistan, it was not a good idea to ask for drone bases in Pakistan around the Afghan border.

Read more: Pakistan will not allow US military bases on its soil

Pakistan is not too pleased with the latest betrayal by the US, and also because of PM Imran Khan’s long stand on not letting Pakistan’s territory be used for someone else’s war. According to sources mentioned in New York Times and Dawn, the CIA chief wanted to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan but it was rejected by the Government of Pakistan saying that only a counterpart meeting between heads of government of Pakistan and the US is possible.

Pakistan indeed took a stand that protocols should be followed, however, one of the main reasons for not meeting the CIA chief is the lack of contact and trust between the two countries.

Imran Khan has made his international standing within the world’s media, and with the heads of states. PM Khan also heads every other top UN meeting on the economy, climate, etc. This has made him even stronger to say no to the US and probably ask them to ‘Do more’ for a change.

Read more: Pakistan will not allow US military bases on its soil

The Biden Administration after Pakistan’s denial is also looking for other options for a drone base to keep an eye on Afghanistan. Uzbekistan and Tajikistan were an option for the US but because of Russia’s influence, it will not be practical and possible to establish bases there.

Pakistan’s concern

Pakistan is the biggest stakeholder and will be directly affected by this decision. The country’s major concern is India’s involvement in Afghanistan. RAW has a network in Afghanistan that operates to attack Baluchistan and KPK mainly. India’s wish to destabilize Pakistan is not a hidden secret. It will always try to gather militant groups and attack Pakistan.

Pakistan’s second concern will be regarding economic activities which are finally going in the right direction and can take a big blow because of the security situation that might occur.

Read more: What role is India playing inside Afghanistan

Pakistan, after losing so many army men, police officers, civilians, journalists in this fight against terror along with spending billions of dollars, cannot afford to go back to the same situation. Pakistan has some deep concerns with US disinterest in getting Pakistan on board for such important decisions that can change the dynamics of this region.

All these years and despite putting in a lot of effort, international media still portrays Pakistan as a safe haven for militant groups and they discard its efforts to end terrorism. Once the US withdraws its army, no one can predict the situation that will occur in Afghanistan, but with terrorist groups still operating in Afghanistan along with the involvement of RAW, it won’t be ideal.

Read more: How India lost Afghanistan to Pakistan?

Pakistan, once again, will be blamed for terrorism and the real culprits will easily get away with it. It’s important for the United States to initiate diplomacy in this region on an equal basis. Lack of stability in keeping its allies together will further damage its chances of holding the region as a world superpower.

Fahad Qureshi is an MPhil scholar, analyst, and journalist. He has expertise in national and international politics. The writer can be reached at thefahadqureshi@gmail.com.The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.