Afghan endgame: Pakistan prefers to watch and wait on US drawdown

Published: June 24, 2011
Foreign ministry shares Islamabad’s anxiety over Obama’s plans, especially the deflection of blame for insurgency.

Foreign ministry shares Islamabad’s anxiety over Obama’s plans, especially the deflection of blame for insurgency.


Pakistan has ‘serious concerns’ on certain issues concerning US plans for the future of Afghanistan following President Barack Obama’s announcement of a phased withdrawal of 33,000 troops by September 2012.

While Kabul and major world capitals welcomed Obama’s decision, Islamabad offered a guarded response and stopped short of giving any explicit statement.

Instead, the foreign ministry said in a terse statement that Pakistan has “ongoing engagement on issues of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan and counter-terrorism”.

“We will have the opportunity to discuss these issues in greater detail when the core group of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US will meet in Kabul early next week,” the statement added.

However, a foreign ministry official admitted that Islamabad has certain reservations about the US plans for the Afghan endgame.

“We are cautious because we want to know more about President Obama’s plans,” the official told The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity.

The official said the US president’s deflection of blame for the insurgency in neighbouring Afghanistan on Pakistan did not reflect the facts on the ground. Pakistan is also sore about Washington’s attempts to sideline it in its peace overtures with the Afghan Taliban, he said.

At a joint news conference with visiting British Foreign Secretary William Hague, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar also sounded sceptical about the role of the US in the Afghan reconciliation process.

“If we are able to get more clarity in our approach and work together then certainly peace would become a reality,” said Khar.

For his part, Hague urged Pakistan to play a constructive role for the success of reconciliatory efforts in Afghanistan as he acknowledged his country was involved in the peace talks with the Taliban.

“Contacts do take place but this is an Afghan-led process and Britain will assist and facilitate. Britain is connected to those events but I don’t want to say any more than that. Any such contacts in any case are at a very preliminary stage,” Hague told reporters at a joint news conference with Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar.

Welcoming Obama’s drawdown plan, the British foreign secretary said that his country too would pull out all its combat troops from Afghanistan by 2015.  However, Hague said that even after the American withdrawal, there would still be approximately 100,000 international troops based in Afghanistan.

“There is clearly an improved atmosphere in relations and cooperation between the two countries,” he said, acknowledging that Pakistan has an important and responsible role to play in Kabul.

Five components of strategic dialogue

Khar said that five areas had been identified as components of the enhanced strategic dialogue between the two countries and Pakistan would share working papers with the UK in moving forward on each one of them.

She said the two sides had agreed to enlarge the role of the British-Pakistan Foundation formally launched in October last year.

US military warns of risks

The US military warned on Thursday that Obama’s faster-than-expected drawdown in Afghanistan created new risks.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged that Obama’s plans to withdraw nearly a third of the some 99,000 US troops in Afghanistan was a riskier plan than he had initially wanted. (With additional input from the news wires)

Published in The Express Tribune, June 24th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (32)

  • Babloo
    Jun 24, 2011 - 7:56AM

    Establishment Ideology 101 :

    If Pakistan wins 1 million dollars and India wins 2 million : Not good for Pakistan.
    If Pakistan wins 1 million dollars and India wins 1 millon : Not Good for Pakistan
    If Pakistan wins 1 million dollars and India wins 1 dollar : Not Good for Pakistan.

    Moral : Anything that benefits India, irrespective of how much good it does to Pakistan, is bad for Pakistan. Hurting India is the sole rational , everything else is irrelevent.Recommend

  • Khawaja Ali
    Jun 24, 2011 - 8:45AM

    Another Vietnam eh? Useless endeavor.Recommend

  • Irshad Khan
    Jun 24, 2011 - 9:22AM

    We have learned enough from u-turns of Americans. They are friends to no one except their financial or tactical gains. We should declare our-selves a neutral country i.e friend to every body and enemy to none and should strictly stick to that position. We have seen results of friendships on several basis and also made several agreements to support others but nobody came to help us whenever we were in hot waters. We have lost values of friendships and are no-where. Lets act now neutrally and devote only and only and only to our own nation. We should not holdFRIENDS OF PAKISTAN` conferences any more as it carried no results except bearing heavy expenditures as the same proved to be just entertainment programmes and personal image building meetings. Where is that friends of Pakistan group now?Recommend

  • Mirza
    Jun 24, 2011 - 9:36AM

    After being caught in bed with OBL red handed, we only have two choices. Put up or shut up. Take your pick.Recommend

  • Arindom
    Jun 24, 2011 - 9:45AM

    You hide the world’s most notorious terrorists, then arrest those who helped capture him. Even after that, you still donot see light! And now you also expect the world to take your permission?!!Recommend

  • Asim+Ali
    Jun 24, 2011 - 9:56AM

    Ummm…Remember the Soviet endgame in Afghanistan? How stupid does one have to be to realize that friends are what you make in school and college and there is no such thing as friendship in international affairs. Its all business and transactional. Its about the economy and economic interests. Do they now realize that 35,000 martyred does not make an iota of difference to the US foreign policy. And that the strategy of letting them set up bases in Pakistan has once again failed. What do they teach at Kakul and National Defense University?Recommend

  • Jun 24, 2011 - 10:05AM

    President Obama did the right thing to order an accelerated troop withdrawal. Definitely a good development for an eventual end to the prolonged war. We are anxiously waiting for the day when the ISAF leaves Afghanistan. Global War on Terror must end. Only a negotiated settlement can achieve it. Meanwhile President Karzai welcomed the accelerated withdrawal announcement. The Global War on Terror has to be winded down. This is no war at all. Such conflicts end up on the negotiating table. The US must now involve Pakistan in a negotiated settlement between the Taliban and the Karzai government in Afghanistan. Remember that Pakistan is the key to the final ending of the war.Recommend

  • Bilafond
    Jun 24, 2011 - 10:38AM

    An appeal to those at the helm of affairs in Pakistan. Save your breath, you dont need to know more about Obama’s plans. He has ordered his troops back to US. Put your own house in order. Enough of ‘beggary’. Generate your own resources and make us proud, if you have the ability. Otherwise, just leave and let some one else govern this “load shedded country”Recommend

  • wasim younis
    Jun 24, 2011 - 11:11AM

    This is an important point raised by the Pakistani authorities. The Americans should keep this in mind that when they pull out of Afghanistan the focus will shift and Pakistan could suffer more as the whole region is in a vulnerable phase.Recommend

  • BruteForce
    Jun 24, 2011 - 11:11AM

    This should shut the many Pakistanis who were authoritatively saying US will never leave the region.

    Come 2014 Pakistan will have ZERO leverage over the US. What is stopping the US after 2014 from sanctioning Pakistan? US controls IMF and WB. Who will give Pakistan money? China currently neither has the muscle nor money to fill US’s shoes.

    In spite of all the assurances saying they will not abandon Pakistan, I dont see US continuing aid to Pakistan after 2014. They will end it on some pretext. In fact I wont be surprised if they sanction Pakistan.

    During the 80s when Pakistan grew rapidly US was helping out and were allies. Then, in the 1990s US abandoned Pakistan and the decline started. This goes to show how much Pakistan is dependent on US for its well-being.

    My advice: Dump all the Terrorists, be it anti-India or anti-West and come clean. Punish all the Terrorists on your soil and establish REAL democracy in Pakistan. That is the only way. Its the toughest way but the only sure way of coming out of this mess. Things will get deadly(with militants striking back daily) but you have to pay this price. Recommend

  • Mahesh Patil
    Jun 24, 2011 - 11:25AM


    First thing after reading any article in Express Tribune, I go for your comments.You write impartially with open mind and to the point.Hope there are many people like you are in Pakistan may be a small percentage but you people unitedly can bring the change.Recommend

  • D. Powers
    Jun 24, 2011 - 11:28AM

    Only one solution for Pakistan : disentangle yourself from Afghan mess and the American clutches. Recommend

  • malik
    Jun 24, 2011 - 11:57AM

    The reason Obama wants to get out Afghan is not because the US Army is getting defeated, but because it is so tired of paying through its nose to use NATO route, which is in Pakistan.

    Pak has been armtwisting US over the NATO route while extracting billions of dollars in return. Pak allows US to use the NATO route, takes the money and helps Taliban to fight US. US is fed up with this, and they want to get out. They cant fight with two forces in an alien territory at the same time.

    What Obama now should do is this:

    — After getting out Afghanistan, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda will be plotting more attacks on US. So, to prevent this, US has to secure its borders.

    —Since most of the terrorist attacks are plotted in Pak soil, US should close down all embassies and consulates and stop issuing visas to Pakistani nationals. This is the only way US can protect its citizens.

    —Also, US faces dangers from Muslims from UK who are far more radicalised and extremist in their behaviour. Right now, the British passport holders can easily enter US. Obama should find a way to screen those visitors from UK.

    —The only way US can protect its citizens and secure its borders is by identifying the enemy and not allowing the enemy to enter its soil. For this, they should start racial profiling in a far more scientific way.

    — The whole muslim world hates US. So, the percentage of an Islamist terror attack is far more than any other dangers. US should have separate entry rules based on where they come from. This should be strictly implemented. A muslim from Pak is different from a Muslim from say, Indonesia or Malaysia. The latter are not likely to pose threats to US citizens.

    If Obama does not do this after the Afghan pullout, then US is in for serious trouble in the days to come !!Recommend

  • Ba ha
    Jun 24, 2011 - 11:59AM

    Obama’s ability to deliver peace is not something to count on. The only way to get peace in Afghanistan is zero interference from US/NATO including getting “secular approach” back in the Pakistan Army and limiting the role of Indian army there. Trade routes through Karachi and Gawadar would help immensely as well as Gas pipelines west to east across Afghanistan. Everyone must benefitRecommend

  • Innocent
    Jun 24, 2011 - 12:00PM

    @Mahesh Patil:
    Mirza is not a Pakistani dear. He was an Afghan migrant to Pakistan and currently studying in UK. Not a single Pakistani can even think to be as “nice” as you Indian wants.Recommend

  • Hedgefunder
    Jun 24, 2011 - 1:12PM

    Why are Pakistanis now claiming to be cautious, after all this is what they always wanted and now you can send your guests from NW back to Afghanistan to get a slice of pie too, on your behalf!!!!!
    Pakistan really needs to put its own house in order and start realising that the Aid Gravy Train is about to come to halt!!
    They need to figure out how to salvage their economy and get back on track, rather than trying to meddle in affairs across the Border as they are in no position to do so, except possibly assist in creating further Mayhem.
    Its obvious that they simply do not have a clear cut Foreign Policy, nor any other Policy in the region except Keep India out of Afghanistan!!
    Sadly that decision is not for pakistan to take, as its not their Colony or State!!
    Its a decision for People of Afghanistan to take, as to who their friends and who they trade with!!!!Recommend

  • ramanan
    Jun 24, 2011 - 1:34PM


    I think Mirza is a Pakistani settled in US.Recommend

  • vasan
    Jun 24, 2011 - 2:39PM

    Pakistan : Do u have a choice?Recommend

  • Jun 24, 2011 - 2:42PM

    William Hague (i read Vague) is acting as if the AFghan and American authorities actually keep him in the loop about any important developments….They say Britain punches above it’s weight in the international arena, which doesn’t say much….The “Do more” Allies of Pakistan are in the process of winding up their operations in Afghanistan and reconciling with the Taliban, while pushing us Pakistanis into starting an all out war with the few militants that do not pose a threat to Pakistan………They’re putting out the fire in Afghanistan and igniting it in Pakistan instead………so much for our ‘friends’……Recommend

  • Frank
    Jun 24, 2011 - 3:03PM


    After being caught in bed with OBL red

    Evidence please. Recommend

  • Khan
    Jun 24, 2011 - 3:59PM

    And you think the World(US) was so native when attacking Afghanistan that OBL etc just slipped through their radars? I am not expert in such things but even if I was sending that many forces and wasting all that money I would know that there are Tribal areas ungoverned by Pakistan and OBL is going to escape nowhere else but there only. So first you will drop your soldiers from That side and squeeze in with aerial support. But there were definitely other reasons that they had to let him slip through.Recommend

  • Menon
    Jun 24, 2011 - 6:09PM

    @Irshad Khan:

    and the world would welcome it wholeheartedly with welcoming hands.

    Do it.Recommend

  • Menon
    Jun 24, 2011 - 6:16PM

    @Dr Sohail Mahmood:

    US is not going to involve Pakistan because Pakistan is not trust worthy. You may continue dream and believe Pakistan is important. Please do climb up Mt. Everest and yell “Pakistan is important” at the top of your lungs continually.

    Apparently, you did not read Mrs. Clintons testimony to the Senate Foreign Reklations committe where she articulated that “Pakistan would like Afghanistan to be subservient to them”. If you are thinkining you are dealing with dumbs and unknoweldgeable Secretary of State, your not only mistaken but deluded. Mrs. Clinton is tough, very well informed and has in-depth knowledge of every subject she speaks about. The best Secrtary of State in history and Obama made the wiasest choice picking her. Hope she sticks around for another four years.Recommend

  • Cautious
    Jun 24, 2011 - 7:14PM

    Terse response was the result of Pakistan getting caught flat footed again — pretty clear that America is no longer taking Pakistan into it’s confidence on its strategy or plans associated with Afghanistan – can’t say I blame them.Recommend

  • Bangash
    Jun 24, 2011 - 7:30PM

    Foreign ministry and others play no role in Afghanistan except issuing statements. to media. The fools in GHQ are still trying to salvage their failed 30-year policy of strategic depth.Recommend

  • Jun 24, 2011 - 11:55PM

    The Great Britan and the USSR have been defeated by the great Afghans and other mujahidin in the past.

    This time,the USA and NATO accepted defeat…hahahaha.,
    “Afghan baqi,kohsar baqi,
    Al mulk lillah,al hukm lillah.
    Long live Pakistan+Afghanistan Recommend

  • shah g
    Jun 25, 2011 - 1:11AM

    1st of all, there will b no cpmplete withdrwl of US troops as US can nt afford to leave da monster alive in kabul as that poses serious threats to its country… So the complete withdrwl may even take 10 more years, who noz da real plan of US…
    2ndlt lets suppose 4 da sake of argument, if US withdrws, dat mean cmplete withdrwl 4m afghanistan, den pakistan has 2 face da brunt, as already NATO troops has vaccated the borfer areas n dats y noe 2 n 300 militants cross over the border n attack pakistani security chk posts, so dats just a trailer, pakistan military who consider these talibans as strategic assets, will no more b able to get contrl of it…its like franknstein, dey develpd it bur nw thgs r totally out of cntrl… V need a straight 4ward policy, no more double game… Neva understud, wat military really means 4m strategic assets n startegic depths…Recommend

  • Mirza
    Jun 25, 2011 - 7:03AM

    @Mahesh Patil:
    Thanks for the kind words. I am a humble and down to earth ordinary person who is trying his best to make the world a better place. Since I was born in Pakistan and my parents are there and would be buried there, I cannot leave the motherland. Even if I have left the motherland has never left me. Let us hope that we can reduce the worst thing in the world “hate”. It can be in the garb of religion, nationality, race or any other form, but it still is the worst poison. We may call ourselves whatever we want but the fact of the matter is all our parents and grandparents were Indians. Even though they may be born in Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi but it was all one country India. The funny thing is the older Pakistani/Americans who were born prior to Aug 14, 1947 in their US passport have India as the place of birth! Cheers, and regards,

  • Jun 25, 2011 - 8:26AM

    You don’t have to worry about the American citizens. There hasn’t been a successful plan pulled off by them since 9/11. Not for a lack of trying, either. That’s why many of us find it funny when they make threats. They got us once by catching us off-guard. That won’t be happening twice and we have been able to say that long before this troop drawdown was conceived.Recommend

  • Ray
    Jun 25, 2011 - 8:54AM

    @wasim younis:
    That’s the whole idea to make Pak suffer. You have taken unfairly advantage of the United States too many times. Be prepare for what is coming your way.Recommend

  • Feroz
    Jun 25, 2011 - 6:12PM

    US is going nowhere, certainly not leaving Afghanistan. They will surely cut down on force levels to the bare minimum, but drones, helicopters, and heavy weapons will be maintained at a few bases. Belatedly the realisation has been slow to dawn that the greatest global threat emanates from the Jihadi mindset of the Pakistani Military / ISI and its proxies, not the rag tag Taliban. After being in Afghanistan the World knows the role played by the biggest trouble maker there. I am surprised that Pakistani’s are so stubborn as to not see the writing on the wall and hell bent on destroying themselves, rather than go for course correction. Everybody commits mistakes but to keep committing them and hope for better times is irrational. Please we want no more blood shed in this region. Recommend

  • dr mubasher
    Jun 26, 2011 - 11:28AM

    This is by natural that if u harm some one, kill him 8 his home he w’ld defend himself. Removing 1/3 forces by 2015, is thi a step towards piece or some thing else. What should they understand from that. Making afghnistan pieceful in this way is making fool to us.Recommend

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