It is defeat that turns bone to flint, it is defeat that turns gristle to muscle, it is defeat that makes men invincible. Henry Ward Beecher The American administration under President Barack Obama has rightly concluded that instead of facing an inevitable humiliating defeat in Afghanistan it is better to pursue an arrangement that allows a face-saving withdrawal of the US/NATO forces from the war-torn country. In a major policy change the US has also understood that Pakistan is the only country that can play a critical role, if peace is to prevail in Afghanistan. This certainly does not mean that the US administration is ready to accept defeat at the hands of the Al-Qaeda or Taliban; however, it implies that Washington wants a representative government in Afghanistan that can handle all the major issues on its own. To achieve this goal, the US is prepared to increase both economic and military assistance to Pakistan. In addition, the US administration has decided to provide a war chest of $37 billion to the new supreme commander of the US/NATO forces in Afghanistan - General David Petraeus. Besides this, the incumbent US leadership is willing to strike a deal with the powerful Haqqani group in Afghanistan and is actively pushing President Hamid Karzai in that direction. Recent reports suggest that some US officials have held secret negotiations with Siraj Haqqani and that Pakistan had played a role in bringing the two sides to the negotiating table. How far the efforts of the Americans will bear fruit is yet to be seen. However, the Americans now seem to be moving in the right direction. The Americans, who had fought a long and bitter war in Vietnam, were supposed to perform better in Afghanistan. But as time has proved that the US policy of surge and the use of brutal air power, alongside pumping in billions of dollars to an inefficient and corrupt regime, has not helped them to achieve any of their major goals in this region. As a matter of fact, the US policy of bribing regional warlords, who are engaged in the nefarious trade of illegal drugs, has also resulted in the wastage of funds and time. This has in turn not only affected the morale of the US troops but has also eroded the support of the American people for the war in Afghanistan. No American administration can face such a situation for a long time. Therefore, the circumstances have led the US into a situation in which it is quickly running out of options that has resulted in a shift of policy. While these are some positive developments, the insistence by the US for an Indian presence in Afghanistan is not going to be helpful to achieve the goals of the western world, especially America. This is so because Indias objective is not to help the Afghans stand on their feet but solely to win lucrative deals for its companies and at the same time use its presence in Afghanistan to foment trouble in the Pakistans province of Balochistan. Pakistan has on several occasions provided the US with irrefutable evidence of Indian involvement in the insurgent activities taking place in Balochistan. The Indian intelligence agency, RAW, has also set up training camps in certain areas of Afghanistan from where extremist elements enter into the Pakistani territory and indulge in acts of terrorism. Moreover, some of the Afghan warlords, who cultivate poppy, with the help of their mentors - RAW - send the lethal drug (heroin) to various European countries. The illegal drug trade from Afghanistan to the West is about $10 billion per year and this is by itself enough money to sustain the war that continues in Afghanistan and elsewhere against American interests. In fact this booming drug trade is not possible without the encouragement of the Americans and the involvement of the Indian government. The government of Hamid Karzai has, so far, not only failed to establish its credentials in Afghanistan, but also continues to act as a puppet for the Indian government. Therefore, the present regime in Kabul has failed to rein in the illegal activities of the Indians in their country. Nevertheless, the coming days and months will prove how far the US is willing to go in order to achieve its redefined goals. The new military leadership in Afghanistan appointed by President Obama will have to do some tightrope walking in case it wants to succeed in creating conditions that will allow a face-saving exit to the Americans when they finally decide to leave the country to its fate. At present, the policy of American drone attacks may have picked up some important Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders but in the process the collateral damage amongst innocent people has inflicted serious long-term damage to US interests in the region. In case the US is really serious to get out of the Afghan quagmire, then it must not only prop up the sagging economy of Pakistan, but also provide the security forces of this country with the equipment that is essential for them to inflict a deadly blow on the insurgents. To achieve its objectives quickly the US will have to ignore Indias objections and provide Pakistan with the much needed equipment they require not only to defeat the terrorists but that is also essential for the security of Pakistan. Both the Pakistani establishment and the American administration must overcome the remaining misgivings that seem to linger on after the mistakes committed by President Musharraf. Mutual understanding and trust are the two main ingredients for success and in case any one party suspects the other it may result in failure. This is a proposition that should not be acceptable to either Pakistan or the United States of America. Similarly, the Americans should ensure that Mr Hamid Karzai changes his hostile attitude towards this country. In the same vein, Karzai must also revise his relations with the Indians keeping in view the realities of his geopolitical position. Another factor that could bring productive results for America, is the sincerity of its administration to nudge Ind-ia to resolve the continuous issue of Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan. The US also has a role to play in the newly created water dispute by the Indians, who are all along playing foul keeping in view the international traditions on such issues. One, therefore, strongly feels that instead of putting half-baked measures in place the policymakers in the US administration will keep in view the interest of Pakistan while implementing the new Afghan policy that is currently being evolved by the American think tanks in Washington. On its part, Pakistan should clearly indicate to the US both the economic and political constraints that it is facing and to what extent it can cope with America in the current scenario. One hopes that the US will not, once again, abandon the people of Afghanistan and will only leave once the rehabilitation process of the country is on track. In case the Americans leave in a hurry, Afghanistan will definitely convert into a dangerous breeding ground for terrorism, a condition that will be in no one's interest. The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: zarnatta@hotmail.com