Abbasi
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Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said that the Afghan war should be fought in Afghanistan; Pakistan will not allow anyone to wage the war in its territory. He also said that the new US policy for Afghanistan will also fail while stressing the need for a political solution in that country. He expressed these thoughts in an exclusive interview with Bloomberg News.

“We do not intend to allow anybody to fight Afghanistan’s battle on Pakistan’s soil.“ Whatever has to happen in Afghanistan should be happening in Afghanistan, Pakistan doesn’t harbor terrorists,” Abbasi asserted.

Abbasi said Pakistan is willing to work with all countries including India in a quest for regional stability. He said:“If they require our support, our support is available.Our support is unconditional as far as terrorism is concerned.” However, he iterated that the peace process should be owned by Afghanistan.

While unveiling the new South Asia strategy, President Trump had called upon Pakistan to give up supporting “agents of chaos” and providing sanctuaries to terrorists that are fighting the US. The Pakistani civilian and leadership has rejected all allegations and has retorted by demanding the US to act against anti-Pakistani elements inside Afghanistan. The US has warned to revoke Pakistan’s ally status and even hinted at strikes inside Pakistan.

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Abbasi said Pakistan is willing to work with all countries including India in a quest for regional stability. He said: “If they require our support, our support is available. Our support is unconditional as far as terrorism is concerned.” However, he iterated that the peace process should be owned by Afghanistan.

The assertions made by the newly-elected PM reflects the changed mood in Islamabad, which is one of defiance. It has not only permeated in the civilian and high command but also the opposition. PTI chief, Imran Khan while chiding Trump over his Afghan policy said that the government should refuse US aid; this was echoed by Chief Minister Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif who called for preferring self-respect over aid.

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A faulty approach 

Abbasi went on to criticize the new strategy; he said that a political settlement must be reached in Afghanistan. “From day one we have been saying very clearly the military strategy in Afghanistan has not worked and it will not work,” said Abbasi, adding himself to the list of those who have berated the military-heavy policy.

Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson said that the US wants to talk from a position of strength. He said that the US has been clear in “sending a message to the Taliban that we are not going anywhere”. He added that the  US moves would be “dictated by conditions on the ground, informed by battlefield commanders”.

Trump has ratified the deployment of more US troops for an indefinite period with a vague aim of killing terrorists, something which the Taliban have vowed to respond to.

However, the US still is optimistic that the Taliban can be militarily defeated and eventually compelled into negotiations. The ground realities, history, and the current stance of the Taliban makes this a far-shot. Abbasi hence stressed the need for a political solution.

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Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson said that the US wants to talk from a position of strength. He said that the US has been clear in “sending a message to the Taliban that we are not going anywhere”. He added that the  US moves would be “dictated by conditions on the ground, informed by battlefield commanders”.

While Trump’s new plan has not been well-received, it remains to be seen if some flexibility is accorded in the new scheme of things. Pakistan, on the other hand, is very clear as to what it has to do: a need to eke-out more from other stakeholders in the Afghan saga.

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