NATO-ISAF forces have announced their intention to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014, but the British ambassador in Kabul, William Patey, believes it will not be a complete withdrawal.
Talking to a select group of journalists at the British High Commission in Islamabad, the visiting envoy said US and NATO forces will “never abandon Afghanistan.” He said the anxiety brewing in the minds of Pakistanis and other regional stakeholders is understandable.
“Pakistan is now engaging the Taliban and extremists in a more serious way, although Kabul believes Pakistan should do more to encourage the reconciliation process in Afghanistan,” said Patey. He acknowledged Pakistan’s legitimate security interests in Afghanistan, and added that “Kabul longs for a friendly Pakistan.”
He said drone attacks in the tribal areas may end once the security situation in Afghanistan improves, although he clarified that this is a matter between Pakistan and the US. He emphasised that Britain is a friend to both countries.
As for the ongoing process in Afghanistan, Patey said, “At the moment it’s all talk about talks,” giving the impression that reconciliation with the Taliban is viewed in Kabul as the only way out for the NATO-ISAF forces. And thus far, there has been no substantial success along these lines.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 8th, 2011.