President Obamas announcement about the implementation of his much-trumpted plan for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan beginning from next month does not give much of a solace to the beleaguered Pakistanis who have been the victim of persistent militant backlash of the war on terror. For one thing, the word 'withdrawal is just a misnomer, a clever attempt at sophistry; the two-year (2011 and 2012) programme of reduction stipulates the recall of 33,000 US soldiers, much less than the surge Mr Obama had effected since he entered the White House. He sent 20,000 troops early 2009 and later in December the same year announced an extra surge of 33,000, touching the total number of US occupation forces in the country to 100,000. For another, his prime-time speech on June 22 contained tough words for Pakistan. In unequivocal terms, he declared that US efforts must also address terrorist safe-havens in Pakistan, thus burying the chances of putting an end to the drone attacks on the Pakistani territory any time soon, not at least till the CIA feels that it has succeeded in wiping them out. At the same time, it raises the possibility of increasing pressure on Pakistan to launch a military campaign in North Waziristan, as he said the US will insist that it (Pakistan) keep its commitments (to eliminate the menace). He added for emphasis: For there should be no doubt that so long as I am President, the United States will never tolerate a safe-haven for those who aim to kill us. The US would recall the remaining troops from Afghanistan, according to the unveiled plan, by 2014 when a 'small residual forces would be left there. Although Mr Obama said, We stand not for empire, but for self-determination, the hint about an unspecified number of troops staying back reveals Washingtons real intentions. Like in Iraq and well over 100 places around the world, the US would keep its bases to maintain its hold over Afghanistan to vie for the energy resources of Central Asian States as well as to serve as a barrier to the expansion of Chinese and Russian influence in this strategically important region. That would be a sure recipe for tension and, possibly, strife. Durable peace will only return once the foreign troops have gone home, and an honourable exit is possible through a process of dialogue with the countrys population, which have a permanent stake there. It is imperative that the US recognise the vital role Pakistan has to play to bring that about. If the Pashtuns in Afghanistan are left dissatisfied at the ultimate settlement, its fallout would be felt in Pakistan as well; neither would stay still, till the Pashtun majority in Afghanistan gets its due rights and aggression is completely vacated. Any encouragement to India, a power hostile to Pakistan, to meddle in Afghan affairs would add fuel to the fire and keep the region destabilised.