US cannot ignore Pakistan: Former US Diplomat

US cannot ignore Pakistan: Former US Diplomat

ISLAMABAD: The US and Pakistan should work jointly to promote a negotiated end to the war in Afghanistan, says a former American diplomat.

Ex-assistant secretary of state Robin Raphel lamented that efforts to deal with the Afghan war were more focused on a military solution rather than a diplomatic process.

Addressing a London-based international think tank, she noted despite ups and downs in their relationship, the US could not ignore Pakistan --an influential emerging democracy.

According to the Pakistani news agency APP, Raphel said burgeoning relations with Beijing and Moscow gave Islamabad greater confidence. Still, she said, Pakistan needed support from the US.

In the discussion at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan's permanent representative to the United Nations, also participated.

Lodhi also opined peace could be restored in Afghanistan only through a negotiated settlement. "This is also the firm consensus of the international community expressed repeatedly by the UN Security Council."

She said the immediate challenge for the US and Pakistan was to find a common approach to Afghanistan. Both countries had benefited from working together, the diplomat claimed, referring to Al-Qaeda’s degradation in the region.

But she thought America’s new strategy for Afghanistan overly relied on military force and fighting to achieve a settlement, “which has proved to be elusive using such means for the past decade and a half".

The continuing conflict in Afghanistan posed enduring security challenges to Pakistan, dealing with turmoil and instability in its neighbourhood for almost 40 years, she concluded.