News Analysis |
“Afghanistan and its partners, especially the US, need to address the challenges inside Afghanistan rather than shift the onus for ending the conflict onto others,” Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said during Friday’s UN Security Council debate on Afghanistan. The debate was convened in Kazakhstan in its capacity as the President of UN Security Council for the month of January.
Lodhi forcefully refuted the claims that Pakistan is providing a safe haven to terrorists and warned the US of using force against Pakistan. “It is not enough to pay lip service to a negotiated settlement and then execute a strategy of force and coercion under the delusion that it will work,” Lodhi asserted. This is the first time since Donald Trump’s New Year tweet that a Pakistani official has used such severe language against the US.
Maleeha Lodhi’s statement in the UNSC is the first change of stance from a Pakistani official. She defended the Pakistani stance voraciously and gave a stringent response to the US accusations that Pakistan is harbouring terrorists.
On Wednesday, returning from a UN Security Council visit to Afghanistan, US Ambassador Nikki Haley stated that Afghanistan wants world powers to pressure Pakistan to change its behaviour. She said that as long as Pakistan is supporting terrorism, the Afghan community will continue to feel unsafe. “They did ask us for [the] consensus to put further pressure on Pakistan to come to the table and change their behaviour,” Haley said.
Lodhi replied to the US and Afghanistan accusations, and suggested them to focus on Afghanistan rather than put the burden of blame on Pakistan. She stated to the UN Security Council that whoever thinks terrorists are hiding in Pakistan, needs a reality check. Lodhi explained that military strategy is not a solution to the Afghan problem. After 17 years of war, it is more than evident that neither the Afghan government and its military partners, nor the Afghan Taliban are in a position to impose a military solution on each other,” Ambassador Lodhi told the UNSC.
She invited the Taliban to abandon violence and join the negotiation table for talks. Lodhi claimed that Pakistan has the most to gain from peace in Afghanistan. Elaborating on the situation in Afghanistan, she stated that 40% of Afghan territory is under the control of insurgents, adding that they don’t need a safe haven within Pakistan when they have a huge area of Afghanistan under their control. Lodhi also explained the Afghan drug trade and claimed that it produces more than 400 million dollars per year, enough to sustain the insurgents financially.
Pakistan did not take any strict action against the US other than warning them of unilateral action. Pakistani officials assured that both nations are working towards the strengthening of ties.
Lodhi highlighted Pakistan’s efforts in the war against terrorism and told the UNSC that Pakistan launched the biggest counter terrorism in the history of the world, and successfully eliminated terrorism from its borders. Like other Pakistani officials, she emphasized the importance of cross-border management. “Our ability to totally eliminate terrorist attacks in Pakistan depends on effective control of the border with Afghanistan,” she said. Lodhi protested that Pakistan has enforced stringent border control measures but no similar action has been taken from the Pakistani side.
The ambassador pointed towards the US military deployment and expenditure in Afghanistan and stated that US failed to reinforce peace in Afghanistan, and the economic conditions are worse than ever. The NATO troops at their peak were at 150,000 in Afghanistan, and US has spent more than 700 billion dollars on the Afghan war. Lodhi pointed at the monumental failure of the US and its allies to bring any semblance of peace in Afghanistan.
Responding to the military aid suspension by the US, Lodhi stated that Pakistan’s cooperation with Washington was not for the sake of any aid but based on our national interests and principles. “My country has been the major victim of terrorism and violence emanating from Afghanistan’s wars and strife,” the ambassador lamented. She urged the UNSC to immediately start a reconciliation process in Afghanistan, aimed at negotiated peace. Maleeha also claimed that Pakistan hosts the largest protracted refugee presence in the whole world.
However, most of this aid is Coalition Support Fund (CSF), which are the reimbursements of Pakistan’s expenses in the war against terror. Officials from both countries have been working for the stabilization of the relationship.
Pak-US relations have been tremulous ever since US President Donald Trump posted a tweet on New Year’s Day, accusing Pakistan of ‘lies and deceit’. He also accused Pakistan of providing safe haven to terrorists. This tweet was followed by the suspension of all US military aid to Pakistan, which amounts to around $2 billion. However, most of this aid is Coalition Support Fund (CSF), which are the reimbursements of Pakistan’s expenses in the war against terror.
Officials from both countries have been working for the stabilization of the relationship. Pakistan did not take any strict action against the US other than warning them of unilateral action. Pakistani officials assured that both nations are working towards the strengthening of ties. Maleeha Lodhi’s statement in the UNSC is the first change of stance from a Pakistani official. She defended the Pakistani stance voraciously and gave a stringent response to the US accusations that Pakistan is harbouring terrorists.