An environment of hype of expectations about the change in international relations, of propaganda, of heightened speculations about the change in course of action while waging war; all at the end, landing to square one. All of these situations give one the déjà vu feeling. The whole world of diplomacy and international relations waits for Afghan War strategy by every new president elect of the United State of America.

After seven months in power and after the traditionally much trumpeted expectations and propaganda, American President Donald Trump unveiled his government’s Strategy for the Afghanistan War and of South Asia. And as expected by veteran students of international relations and diplomacy, the USA has yet again opted to increase troop deployment and to dump numerous original causes of perpetual failures in Afghanistan into a blame game towards Pakistan to “do more” and resurrected the false narrative of “safe havens”. The only new arrival in the war strategy is the open invitation to USA ally India for an increased role in Afghanistan. As against the hype of expectations which every President elect gives to the American nation to end “swiftly” this longest ever 16 years war, President Trump has yet again opted to go for a military solution of the Afghan crisis. With the excuse that “things look different from the desk in the Oval office”, Trump backed off his election promise and has authorised 3,900 more troops on Afghan ground to add to already 8,400.

Ever since the USA has termed Pakistan a “Major Non- NATO Ally” in its war to curb terrorism in Afghanistan, USA has yet to accept, realise and believe that true implementation of this status in letter and spirit is actually in its own interest. In this 16 years of war the USA has lost billions of dollars and has tried upto 100,000 troops to use of force to resolve the intricate, complex and perennial Afghan enigma. Yet the war strategists and respective Presidents have failed to pursue a realistic and unbiased strategy, they have failed to focus on real issues, they have failed to identify the true stakeholders in the regional peace and they have failed to rightly asses the pros and cons of Indian involvement in the Afghan equation. To Pakistan’s disappointment yet again American President has trumpeted the false, outdated narrative of safe havens and has used harsh rhetoric asking Pakistan to “demonstrate its commitment to civilisation, order and peace”. Pakistan doesn’t deserve this uncivil treatment as we are the only nation which has single handedly waged war against the menace of terrorism, has fought valiantly in front line in the war to curb terror and has rendered sacrifices of Pakistani soldiers, civilians and of money and resources. Our time tested friend China has rightly and timely reiterated its appreciation and has emphasised to the international community that Pakistan’s “great sacrifices” and “important contributions” made on the frontlines in the war against terrorism should be acknowledged and appreciated.

Pakistan military and civil leadership has unequivocally responded that Pakistan is not part of Afghan problem rather Pakistan is actually a vital part to the solution of this problem. In an official response, Pakistan foreign office and our civil and military leadership has vehemently denied American charges that Pakistan is harboring any terrorist sanctuaries. COAS General Bajwa met American Ambassador David Hale and categorically rebuffed the false accusations that Pakistan is providing safe havens to any kind of terrorism. In a befittingly reply to President Trump’s taunting reminders of billions of dollars aid, COAS Bajwa clearly said Pakistan isn’t eyeing US material or financial assistance, all we need as an ally is “Trust understanding and acknowledgement of our contribution”. It is pertinent to mention here that in the recent past two high level American delegations visited Pakistan and the Pakistan Army took them at the time and place of their choice to demonstrate our counter-terrorism achievements. Yet America’s new strategy fails to comprehend that a peaceful Afghanistan and elimination of terrorism is in the foremost interest of Pakistan itself. The official statement by our Defense Minister in Senate rightly highlights Pakistan’s commitment to work with international community towards common objectives of peace and stability. Pakistan has rightly pointed out that there is no “military solution” to the Afghan crisis only “Afghan led and Afghan-owned politically negotiated solution can lead to sustainable peace in Afghanistan”. While voicing Pakistan’s concerns over proposals of increased Indian involvement in Afghanistan, the statement rightly connects “complex interplay of geopolitics, continued existence of festering disputes and pursuits of hegemonic policies” to the increased threats to peace and security of the region.

In the complex arena of geopolitics USA prefers to appreciate and ally with India, a non-border country to increase its role in Afghanistan’s economic development. This invitation comes despite the fact that Pakistan has already shared evidences with USA about increased RAW backed terrorism in Pakistan from Afghan soil. President Trump unduly mentioned atomic weapons of Pakistan and India and the risks attached with it but did not pay heed to the core festering dispute of Kashmir between the two countries. How can Pakistan trust India as a peace mongering country unless India stops its state-sponsored terrorism and brutalities against innocent Kashmiris and acknowledge the indigenous freedom movement? And how is it possible that true cooperation between the two countries will jointly bears fruits for regional peace, unless India stops eyeing Afghanistan as a way to encircle Pakistan. Pakistan’s apprehensions are not baseless as in the recent past it was RAW sponsored 16 Daassh terrorists who were killed in Afghanistan when the USA dropped the mother of all bombs (MOAB) on Afghanistan.

USA needs to realise that Pakistan is a sovereign state with its national interests and its own preferences in international relations. Pakistan desires peaceful, friendly and mutually beneficial relations with all countries for the regional peace and security. But Pakistan will never yield to USA and Indian hegemonic pursuits in the region while compromising its vital national interests or its stakes in international diplomacy.