President Karzai of Afghanistan is in Washington for a face to face meeting with President Obama on Friday January 11. The main topics to be delved upon would be US troop’s strength after 2014 withdrawal that the US may like to retain and immunity to be granted to US troops that would stay back in their military actions against Afghans inside Afghanistan and Taliban. There are reports that President Obama may also discuss an option of not keeping any soldiers at all in Afghanistan beyond 2014. President Karzai is a worried man on the sensitive issues on two counts. Firstly, he may insist that US troops must not withdraw in totality for which he might be prepared to grant immunity to US soldiers for their actions even against his own countrymen inside Afghanistan. Secondly, he may request provision of funds by the US to the tune of around US $2.5 billion in addition to US $3.6 billion already promised by international community at Chicago Conference. In continuation of the same he may press the US President to devise a methodology wherein those funds are delivered to Afghan government rather than channeling the same through NGOs and contractors. Another US $4 billion promised by the Tokyo Conference remains dependent on the strong conditionality levied on Mr. Karzai’s performance in arresting corruption and good governance. By all counts, President Karzai would not be able to meet those conditions in current or in any future time frame considering the volatile Afghan environments especially after 2014.The question that worries so many Afghans is the constant latching of President Karzai with the US. If history of US friendships is considered, it is always the other partners that had to pay maximum premiums to carry forward the relationship with the US. If Mr. Karzai thinks that US would be Afghanistan’s savior, he is grossly mistaken. Looking for US to sustain Afghanistan beyond 2014, will always be a far cry. Instead of looking outwards this is the time when he should be looking inwards and the immediate neighbors to strengthen Afghan polity and enter into some serious negotiations with the Taliban. He should have been emboldened by the recent developments with regard to a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan. The recent interactions between the Taliban insurgents and major Taliban factions and the Afghan government have given a flicker of hope to Afghanistan. The multiple visits by Afghan delegations to Pakistan and their recent interactions with the Taliban in Paris have been significant developments in pursuit of a peaceful Afghanistan.Pakistan has also carried out its own analysis of an Afghanistan scenario once the US troops leave. Seeing the absolute necessity of a negotiated settlement for Afghan stability, it released at least four significant Taliban prisoners who were considered to be close to Mullah Omar. This was done in hope that Afghanistan will sincerely negotiate for peace rather than look elsewhere to create peace in Afghanistan. Karzai has relied too much and too long on US for sustenance of his government and the country. Beyond 2014, that help may not be coming through but if it does it will be rocky. It will be beneficial for Mr. Karzai that instead of pleading in the US he must engage Pakistan to help bring peace to Afghanistan. Pakistan will be more forthcoming and is prepared to walk an extra mile for peace in Afghanistan, as peace in Afghanistan means peace and stability in Pakistan as well. ENGINER JAVED IQBAL, Islamabad, January 11.