Leaders in Nato’s meeting in Brussels that was also attended by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have reached a general consensus that the international forces will pull out of Afghanistan in 2014. It was also agreed that by this date the country’s security would be handed over to the local forces. This is a welcome sign for Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, the hope that the Nato and Isaf would adhere to this timeline is dampened by frequent comments by the Obama Administration’s high ranking officials as well as its military top brass. A case in point is Defence Secretary Leon Panetta’s statement only a few days back that the US would work out a strategy with the Afghan government to allow the troops to stay beyond the withdrawal deadline.

The recent coordinated attack on different cities by the Taliban that is thought to be the prelude to the spring offensive should make it clear that until occupying forces pack up and leave lock, stock and barrel, Afghanistan will continue to suffer. For the US there are no ifs and buts about it since the Afghan nation has once again lived up to its reputation of being impossible to subdue, who value their freedom first and last. Pakistan must also realise that it is time to serve it's own interests first. Not only should we expedite the peace process with the disgruntled tribesmen but also insist that the US to halt the drone warfare.