America isn’t leaving Afghanistan anytime soon: Former envoy

Published: April 19, 2012

Foriegn policy analyst Tanvir Khan stressed the need for Pak-US relations to shift from their strategic focus to a more people-centric and economic approach.

Pakistan needs to devise a strategy built around a long-term US presence in Afghanistan, as the Americans are not leaving Afghanistan anytime soon. This was stated by foreign policy analyst Tanvir Ahmad Khan at a roundtable conference here on Wednesday. The event was organised by the Institute of Regional Studies (IRS).

Khan argued that the perception of Pakistan through the foreign eye is of a weak client state that should obey diktats from the US. This is why, in Khan’s opinion, the US wants Pakistan to secure its interests in Afghanistan and not obstruct India’s ambitions of becoming a regional power to counter Chinese influence in the region.

He said that Pak-US relations were improving but that the bad patch in the relations has helped rationalise the bilateral discourse and is likely to eliminate idealistic expectations in the future.

Khan felt there are still irritants in the relationship, like drone attacks, which he believed would not come to an end any time soon, and nuclear weapons as well as Pakistan’s overtures towards other countries like China, Iran, and Russia.

Khan stressed the need for Pak-US relations to shift from their strategic focus to a more people-centric and economic approach.

He also urged the US to play its role in bringing India and Pakistan closer.

Defence analyst Lt Gen (retd) Talat Masood added that the US is bringing India and Pakistan closer as a byproduct of its policy to keep India focused on China, and Pakistan on militancy and extremism. He was of the view that the major difference between Pakistan and the US is on how to address the militants.

According to Gen Masood, Pakistan considers extremist elements a constant presence in Pakistani society, which is why it wants a solution that entails coexistence. On the other hand the US wants Pakistan to crack them down.

Ambassador (retd) BA Malik said that Pakistan’s real enemy is militancy and extremism and not the US. He also disagreed with the perception that the US had lost the war in Afghanistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 19th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (3)

  • WhatisThetruth
    Apr 19, 2012 - 11:04AM

    Nothing new in the analysis. But the solutions that he proposes will do nothing to change the US centric policy making process that Pk has. Indeed, you could argue that if the US needs to stabilise Pakistan to help India focus on China, and it needs us to protect the US interests in Afghanistan, then we seem to be a regional player. Are we then not in a bargaining position to demand more from the US? Does Tanvir Ahmad Khan or Talat Masood not see the natural consequence of their analysis…? I

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  • Vigilant
    Apr 19, 2012 - 12:56PM

    Without considering extremists as part or stakeholders of society……no permenant solution for long lasting peace

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  • Dr V. C. Bhutani
    Apr 19, 2012 - 6:30PM

    This is a perceptive paper which has the further quality of sobriety. If we take a larger view of international relations and not from the point of view of this or that country, perhaps it may be in order to say that for a good and wholesome new world order to arise and to work to the advantage of the peoples of the world, it will help if some countries would consider coming together. The 20th was a century of war which brought about great changes. It also saw changes like the dawn of freedom around the world and the passing of several imperial powers. It will conduce to the good of the people of the world if “the age of extremes” is followed by an era of moderation and accommodation. We also need to remember that there are not any superior traditions or ideologies or ways of thought that would justify resort to violence to subdue those of other traditions and ideologies and way of thought. Survival of humankind is possible only in an atmosphere of plurality and acceptance of the differentness of others.
    The countries that will have a pervasive, formative, and lasting impact on the future of humankind are US, Russia, China, and India (not necessarily in that order), joined by Canada, UK, Germany, Japan, South Africa, Australia, Pakistan, and Iran (again, not necessarily in that order). The historical experience of these societies and their philosophical orientation shall ensure the making of a world order that will think of the good of all humankind across the continents. This also means that these countries shall have to get out of their boxes and think in larger than merely national terms.
    V. C. Bhutani, Delhi, India, 19 Apr 2012, 1900 IST

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