ISLAMABAD: In its input for the ongoing review by the United States on Afghanistan, Pakistan has advised the Trump administration to follow the path of negotiations instead of relying on the use of force to find a solution to the lingering conflict.
The suggestion came during a recent visit of a US delegation headed by Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia and Special Representatives for Pakistan and Afghanistan Alice Wells.
Wells, on a tour to regional countries that also took her to Afghanistan and India, was in Islamabad as part of consultations with Pakistani authorities before the Trump administration finalises its much-awaited strategy on Afghanistan.
The Trump administration is struggling to come up with a comprehensive plan to end the 16-year-long campaign in Afghanistan with some semblance of peace returning to the war-ravaged country.
Reports suggested that the White House is contemplating sending additional troops to Afghanistan in order to break the stalemate in the country where insurgents are thought to be on the ascendancy.
Trump is also upset with the current US commander leading the mission in Afghanistan and believed to have been seeking the removal of Gen John Nicolson for his failure to win the battle.
Pakistan, like the rest of the regional players, is anxiously waiting for the Trump administration’s new strategy.
A senior official at the Foreign Office told The Express Tribune that Pakistan told the US administration that the use of force would not solve the problem in Afghanistan.
“If use of force is the answer, Afghanistan would be at peace long ago,” added the official while explaining as to why Islamabad strongly feels that the only road to peace in Afghanistan is through an all-inclusive dialogue.
The official confirmed that Pakistan had given its input to the Trump administration for the Afghan review. Sharing broader contours of Pakistan’s approach, the official said Islamabad stressed the need for finding a political solution to the Afghan imbroglio.
An official hand-out issued by the Foreign Office after the meeting between the US delegation and Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua also indicated that Pakistan was seeking a ‘comprehensive political strategy’ for Afghanistan. Islamabad hoped that such a strategy would not only bring peace in Afghanistan but also in the region.
The US review is not confined to Afghanistan, as authorities in Washington are looking to evolve a plan for the South Asian region involving Pakistan, India and Iran.
And that was the reason the US side was informed about Pakistan’s ‘strategic grievances’, particularly regarding the role of some ‘hostile agencies’ taking advantage of the fluid situation in Afghanistan.
“Pakistan certainly wants its genuine strategic concerns to be heard and addressed,” the official maintained, adding unless a broader regional framework is evolved peace in Afghanistan would remain elusive.
One of Pakistan’s main concerns is the increasing footprint of Indian intelligence agencies in the neighbouring country. Islamabad has already gone public with its apprehensions.
Pakistan is also hoping that in a broader regional strategy, the Trump administration would look into the root causes of perennial tensions in South Asia, especially between Pakistan and India on the longstanding Kashmir dispute.