For the last few months, old friends and allies of South Asian region, Pakistan and United States are not on speaking terms. Both had been fighting against terrorists in Afghanistan for many of the last decades. However, United States has declared its first divorce to Pakistan by saying ‘’Do more’’ to which Pakistan’s response was “No more’’. The notice of this first divorce was overflowing with blames and reservations from President Trump with the motive for Dollar pumping. The cause of action of this first divorce was mismanagement of the Afghan war and its results. The USA’s stern action and blame game has destroyed the whole purpose of peace in Afghanistan. This failure has changed the global mindset about the intense debate over Afghanistan; that Pakistan USA should now resolve this longstanding issue.
Pak-US cannot divorce each other on the Afghanistan issue. USA’s new partnership with India is like one without an investment, experience as well as utility. A nation like India, like a teenager, would be a great disaster for USA in Afghanistan. In the presence of Pakistan, India does not qualify for its new assignment in replacing Pakistan. Indian political role in Afghanistan will damage not only the region but the country itself as well.
It is a known reality that Pakistan has lost 80,000 people in this war of terror for the sake of world peace. The country has proven to be a responsible and true front line state in the war against terror and has shown clear signs of international commitment and sacrifice for world peace. The sacrifices of students in KPK are enough to tell the world that Pakistan is in a state of war, which makes the statement from President Trump even more hurtful for the Parents and the families’ of the victims and soldiers. This is precisely the reason why the people of Pakistan have shown displeasure against Trump’s speech and the current US policy towards this region. President Trump’s statement has severely hurt the feelings of not just the army but also the people of Pakistan. Although one could say that the hidden meaning behind ‘do more’ is the USA actually desiring more, but this cannot be done until that what has already been done is accepted.
The USA’s future holds no position other than it being an ally of Pakistan in Afghanistan. In global perspective, the onus to fix the failure in Afghanistan is jointly on the US, Afghanistan and Pakistan’s governments. The US and Afghanistan rupture occurred with the army because of the “do more” threat. In order to preserve US interest in Afghanistan, US must therefore adopt a compassionate intelligent and wise diplomacy and carry this vision.
The US also needs to maintain a strong diplomatic presence centred in its Kabul Embassy, while funding educational and development projects and using its influence to increase the sense of legitimacy that all Afghans question about the government in Kabul. They must also help the people of Afghanistan in economic revival and livelihood as well as technical assistance for utilisation of natural resources. This region needs supportive programs from US in terms of liberalisation, restoration, rehabilitation and reconstruction not only for Afghanistan but for the whole region.
What the US needs is a new policy of proximity talk with the different groups of Taliban for peace and sustainable government in Afghanistan, and to drop its war approach while moving towards a dialogue based approach to find a place for itself in this region as a kind and friendly umpire. Pakistan’s isolated and non –interfering policy towards Afghanistan has become a top agenda of Foreign Policy that may become another damaging aspect for the US.
These two words; “do more” and the United States’ new Afghan policy, have together pushed Pakistan into another direction. This region had been demanding economic activities since a long time now, and USA’s escape from this region has only opened this region for war once again.
The tribal systems will never accept the war policy, but they can easily be softened by regional players through trade-related polices. They are historically, traditionally and psychologically trained to resolve their issues through tribal heads (Jirga) and thus need confidence in the new Afghan Government. Despite the US claim of having pumped millions of dollars into Afghanistan, the situation has not been improved because of poor interaction with local Afghans.
The failure of the last 10 years in Afghanistan is a huge question mark for the USA. Pakistan has a great experience of civil-military strategic alliance in Afghanistan, but United States has never tested the ability of Pakistan in this area of expertise. Resultantly, Afghanistan has never come out as a diplomatic state. The US and Pakistan’s joint strategic movement against Terror had global support without any serious reservations by the USSR, however Trump’s statement has been considered as a confessional statement implying that stakeholders in this region have failed, which is an alarming situation. Several years since the US occupation in Afghanistan have already passed and if the misunderstanding continues, then the confidence of allies will be shaken.
Knowingly, the majority of the areas of Afghanistan are still under the control of different groups. The US and Pakistan should immediately start negotiating again without any delay under a Joint Committee with an agenda, deadlines and periodical reviews of the geopolitical situation of Afghanistan. There should be no further blame game and the two countries should work together under a legal frame work, acceptable to both the sovereign states, subject to documented intelligence sharing and other related information to combine future military operations against terrorism. This committee should further evolve on areas of mutual interest and should satisfy each and every level of fear. The committee should also assess human rights’ violations and announce fair relief packages to the victim families, who lost their innocent lives in collateral damage, during the operations against terrorism.
For the last three decades, the world community could not present any useful and productive economic package to the affectees of the war on terror in this region. Pakistan with the help of USA and EU can use CPEC as opportunity of an economic revival for the youth and local people of Baluchistan and KPK. This corridor can bring peace, prosperity, harmony and economic revival for the people of this region, who suffered tremendous losses in this war.
The author is former judge, lawyer and President of Centre for Rule of Law Pakistan.