News Analysis |
Lt Gen Kenneth F. McKenzie responding to a question asked to him by a senator about Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan has acknowledged that peace in Afghanistan goes through Pakistan and the latter is aware of it. “I do believe that any solution in Afghanistan is going to require the assistance of Pakistan.
It has to be a regional solution, not just a solution centered in Afghanistan,” Gen McKenzie replied. He was being questioned by the U.S Senate’s Armed Services Committee for the confirmation of his appointment as the next commander of the U.S Central Command.
All the Pakistani officials have stressed the need for meaningful dialogue between the stakeholders and offered all the assistance Pakistan can provide to facilitate the process.
It is the prerogative of the executive branch to nominate officials for the key positions in the United States, which are ultimately rejected or approved after the conformational hearings and vetting by the relevant congressional committee.
Pakistan – Key to the Endgame in Afghanistan
The recent developments in the United States of America regarding Pakistan underscore the established, understood, but often neglected fact that it is necessary to take Pakistan on board when it comes to the sustainable peace in Afghanistan. Both countries have a tangled history which reached its pinnacle during the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan and the unrest it followed.
The statement from the in-line U.S commander and the recent letter which was sent by the U.S President Donald Trump to Prime Minister Imran Khan should help the brains in the United States to keep in mind Pakistan’s interest as well.
It is true that Pakistan cannot isolate itself from the United States altogether since it is still the major driving force on the global level in major spheres, but it also has significance for the United States especially in the context of Afghanistan. It is a healthy sign for the bilateral relations between both the countries that the next Commander is aware of the ground realities.
When asked whether he believed that Pakistan had still not acknowledged that it had a role to play in Afghanistan, General McKenzie said, “Pakistan knows very clearly that their assistance will be required to reach an end state in Afghanistan. I think the task that we have is to make it attractive to them so that they see that it is in their best interests to do that.”
The U.S Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad has set off for another round of official trips to all the countries which may influence the Taliban directly or indirectly.
It is gradually coming to the realization of the United States that Pakistan’s own security and regional strategic interests cannot be taken for granted anymore; particularly with the growing influence of India in Afghanistan which now a web of consulates all over the country utilizes to spread unrest inside Pakistan.
Taliban are Likely to Stay
General McKenzie has stated that Taliban are most likely to be the essential part of the negotiated set up once the United States leaves Afghanistan. The statement at large expresses the realistic approach which has been seen in the U.S attitude recently.
He also suggested that the capacity building of the Afghan Forces would be the goal once he gets the reins of the military affairs in the only country where the U.S officially has boots on the ground. “Their losses have been very high. They are fighting hard, but their losses are not going to be sustainable unless we correct this problem,” Lt Gen McKenzie told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The U.S Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad has set off for another round of official trips to all the countries which may influence the Taliban directly or indirectly. Currently, he is in Pakistan where he has met, Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, and Prime Minister Imran Khan. All the Pakistani officials have stressed the need for meaningful dialogue between the stakeholders and offered all the assistance Pakistan can provide to facilitate the process.