Maritn Dempsey, US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been inciting President Barrack Obama to send more ground troops to Iraq against ISIS. He demanded the reinforcements in Iraq especially for an encounter to recapture Mosul. It has been reported in the beginning of November 2014 that President Obama is sending up to 1500 troops to Iraq. Republican Senator Rand Paul giving reference to the US constitution and War Power Act claimed that President’s decision to send 1500 more troops to Iraq without consulting Congress is illegal.

The US President during his second inaugural speech asseverated that “a decade of war is now ending.” and “that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.” On November 16, 2014 in Brisbane he further elaborated his Iraq policy by saying that “If we discovered that ISIL had gotten possession of a nuclear weapon only that would force me to send foot soldiers to Iraq.”

The second policy statement of the President gave the breathing space to the anti-war politicians like Senator Rand Paul. This strategy shift in US foreign policy is because of the strong anti-conflict movements in US, that is gaining more and more support everyday. Rand Paul is expected to be a strong presidential Candidate in the upcoming US general elections. This policy shift is not limited to the war zones only, but even the process of liberalising the relations with Cuba is also heavily linked with this pressure. When Republican Senator Marco Rubio who also seems to be a possible 2016 presidential candidate criticized the peace process with Cuba, Senator Rand Paul stood in favour of having good relations with Cuba.

The ISIS threat is much more crucial for US than Taliban in Afghanistan. This is because ISIS is expected to penetrate more within the Middle Eastern region if the US failed to contain them. Apparently the US has managed to install democratic governments in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the fact of the matter is that Haider al Aabidi and Ashraf Ghani neither have political nor moral authority in their respective domains. The political constraints for US in Afghanistan will be much more than they are having in Iraq right now.

The withdrawal of US forces is bringing a lot of complex challenges for Pakistan. The paradigm shift that Pakistan had in its entire foreign policy since 9/11 especially with reference to Afghanistan would now show all its repercussions. How can Afghan and Pakistan governments resist the Taliban when the forces of 48 countries have been knocked out by them?

There is a harsh reality whether the secular radicals of Pakistan are ready to accept it or not, the Afghan Taliban are on the rise and sound victorious in Afghanistan right now. It’s a high time for the military establishment in Pakistan to accept the fact that they made a wrong decision to get themselves allied with the US against Taliban. This is because very soon after the end of this winter Taliban will start their military campaigns against Afghan government. This would provide Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan with the safe havens in Afghanistan that would turn out to be a mammoth challenge for Pakistan. Afghan Taliban is a legitimate political entity unlike TTP although we betrayed them that was principally and morally a crime we had committed in the past. Even the US has now categorically declared that Afghan Taliban are not “terrorists” and they are “armed insurgents.” As it is being said that “there are no permanent friends or enemies in politics, only permanent interests.” So it’s in our interest to bring a paradigm shift in our foreign policy especially with respect to Afghanistan. We have to reintroduce our policy of strategic depth and need to realise the fact that Afghan Taliban are undoubtedly our strategic assets.

As mentioned in the beginning that there is hardly any possibility that the US forces are going to come back in Afghanistan, especially not before the presidential elections. At most air strikes are expected from US in Afghanistan the way they are doing in Iraq right at this moment.

It’s a golden opportunity for Pakistan to develop good relations with Afghan Taliban as we can get the support from the anti-war groups in the US in this regard.

We can come up with an argument when the US can have talks and normal relations with Raul Castro then why not Pakistan can have talks with Afghan Taliban. The military and political leadership have to redevelop good terms with Afghan Taliban and should get their support in isolating the insurgents groups of Pakistan who are killing innocent Muslims in the name of Islam and claiming themselves to be Taliban.

Furthermore, the political forces in Pakistan who have been opposing the US war on terror and military operations in Pakistan like Imran Khan will have to develop diplomatic relations with anti-war political leaders like Rand Paul. Imran should take the lead in this regard and convey them that US policy is counterproductive and Pakistan cannot afford to have hostile relations with Afghan Taliban anymore. Moreover, Imran must convince them that US Senate should stop pressurising Pakistan to “do more” and should not create any hurdles in our way to begin dialogue with the Taliban.

   —The writer Ali Rauf Jaswal is a political researcher.