The endgame: Ex-diplomats see US pullout a long-drawn process

Published: August 26, 2011

Speakers say political negotiations are the only solution to the Afghan quagmire.

ISLAMABAD: The withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan can be a ‘much longer than expected’ process and is poised to test security ties between Pakistan and the United States, experts warned here on Thursday.

The warning from top former diplomats came as Islamabad and Washington continue to ‘fight it out between themselves’ to secure ‘divergent’ interests, ahead of an impending endgame in Afghanistan.

Speaking at the launch of a report by Jinnah Institute, the speakers asserted that a negotiated settlement was the only way forward in Afghanistan.

Titled as “Pakistan, the United States and the endgame in Afghanistan; perception of Pakistan’s foreign policy elite”, the report is based on collective as well as individual interactions with academics, former military and diplomatic officials and politicians.

Former ambassador Aziz Ahmed Khan said on the occasion that the world must not expect the Taliban to come to negotiating tables on terms set by the US because the option of using force had already been exhausted.

He added that the US should include Pakistan in the dialogue process.

He advised both Pakistani and US leadership to overcome ‘infighting’ which might threaten their strategic partnership.

“The US and Pakistan need to clear mutual misunderstandings. Otherwise, durable peace is not possible in Afghanistan,” Khan suggested.

Riaz Khokhar, the former foreign secretary, said that recent indications that the US might maintain the presence of its troops in Afghanistan till 2024 were disturbing and would not help the cause of bringing stability to the war-torn country.

Obsession with Indian role

Moeed Yusuf, one of the authors of the report and a South Asia advisor at the US institute of Peace, said Pakistan’s concerns in any future arrangement for Afghanistan must be addressed.

He added that Pakistan’s ‘obsession’ with an Indian role in Afghanistan other than development purposes was complicating Islamabad’s narrative for the future settlement in the war-hit country.

He also shared fears of former diplomats that the longer US troops stay in Afghanistan; the more difficult it would be for Pakistan to adjust its position.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 26th,  2011.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • Cautious
    Aug 26, 2011 - 6:10PM

    A long draw down is possible – but it’s also likely that most of the American’s will simply quickly depart leaving a few well fortified air bases to facilitate a cost effective war on terrorism. They don’t need Pakistan to achieve those goals and the relationship will further degrade.

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  • Chengez
    Aug 26, 2011 - 9:30PM

    American policies will ultimately lead to U.S to total defeat.

    It is be coming clear to everyone that terrorism has been used as an excuse to have a military presence on the borders of China,Pakistan & Iran.

    Frredom loving Afghans would ultimately rout the invaders with the help of these three countries.

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  • John
    Aug 27, 2011 - 8:45AM

    Afghanistan / Pakistan are new Korea. Who is south and who is north Korea depends on Pakistan.

    NATO /US in the region is going to be permanent minus the combat operations.

    Afghanistan is not going to cut ties with India and neither India is going to stop its financial aid and infrastructure project development in Afghanistan.

    As much as this irks Pakistan pride, Pakistan has to consider its own future especially after Abottabad incident.

    Pakistan’s foreign policy never payed dividend since its founding. It is time to write a new one.

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  • Ahmed
    Aug 28, 2011 - 10:05AM

    As repeatedly admitted by US Administration, Pakistan remains the indispensable part of Afghan Reconciliation process. It is for this reason alone that Pakistan’s legitimate concerns particularly related to security of its western borders need to be accommodated. This would largely depend on the the effectiveness of future Afghan government and its ability to stabilize their country— something which keeps the planners tentative. Pakistan surely looks forward to a stable and prosperous Afghanistan able to govern itself without any foreign meddling. A serious question is to determine real motives of all the stake holders, if at all we are looking for any end game and that too the one leading towards long term stability of the region. Unfortunately, while determining and pursuing objectives in a particular scenario, nations like US develop a detached view and fail to see the cross impact of the regional dynamics generated by the complex nature of relations of regional countries. This leads US to lean towards a particular regional country which further complicates the situation, as US is then viewed as a country taking sides instead of playing a neutral role for stability of the region.

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  • Ahmed
    Aug 28, 2011 - 10:24AM

    Pakistan – India relations will have a marked impact on the outcome of ongoing Afghan situation. If at all a positive outcome is being sought for long term stability of the region, powers in being must encourage the two countries to resolve the issues on fast track by adopting simultaneously multiple tracks of engagement. Also, it is to be realistically and sincerely seen if positive stakes of all the stakes holders in stability and development of Afghanistan can be built. To elaborate, a stable Afghan may help realize old dream of flow of energy from Central Asia to energy deficient countries like Pakistan, India and China, as well to the other consumers in the West. For this any Pakistan- India proxy in Afghanistan will have to be avoided and giving any security role to India in any future dispensation of Afghanistan will have to be critically evaluated — rather avoided. In all probability , common Afghans will remain averse to Indian security role in their country as was seen in the aftermath of Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989.

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  • Tony Singh
    Aug 28, 2011 - 7:30PM

    Isn’t it strange. a country which has an uncertain tomorrow is worried about endgame in Afganistan that too from 2014 onwards!

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