Pakistan hard stance to complicate US plan in the region: International media

Pakistan hard stance to complicate US plan in the region: International media
NEW YORK: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has stressed the need for a political settlement in Afghanistan, saying US President Donald Trump’s strategy for America’s longest-running war in that country will meet the same fate as the plans of his
predecessors: Failure.

“From day one we have been saying very clearly the military strategy
in Afghanistan has not worked and it will not work,” Abbasi said in an interview with Bloomberg News, an international news agency based in New York.

There has to be a “political settlement,” he said in the interview that took place in Karachi on Saturday night. “That’s the bottom-line,” the prime minister added.

Abbasi said while his government supported the fight against
terrorists it would not let the war in Afghanistan, with which it
shares a 1,550-mile border, spill into Pakistan.

Bloomberg News said the Abbasi government stance may complicate
Trump’s plan for the region after he pledged more US troops for
Afghanistan. Failure by Trump to resolve the Afghan war risks even greater financial and human cost for the US, could leave it bogged down further in the conflict, it said.

The war has cost the US about $714 billion and several thousand
lives, the report noted. “We do not intend to allow anybody to fight Afghanistan’s battle on Pakistan’s soil,” Abbasi said during the interview at the former
home of the nation’s founder Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, while he was on a visit to Karachi.

“Whatever has to happen in Afghanistan should be happening in Afghanistan,” he said. “Pakistan doesn’t harbour terrorists.” Bloomberg News noted that Pakistan’s military has been conducting
its own offensive against terrorists with the latest operation in the
Khyber tribal region starting last month after Da’esh presence increased in Afghanistan. The Pakistani army earlier said it had cleared North Waziristan on the Afghanistan border.
More than 60,000 people have been killed while Pakistan’s economy
has suffered a loss of about $120 billion from waging war at home
against terrorists, the report said, citing the finance ministry. 

The nation also became one of the largest hosts to refugees globally after Afghans started crossing the border to flee the war after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US.

Pakistan has started returning refugees and plans to fence its border
with Afghanistan to prevent the cross-border movement of militants.
Abbasi said Pakistan was willing to work with all countries, including India, from which Trump sought help to develop Afghanistan’s economy, to achieve regional stability.

Still, he added the Afghan government should be “owning” the issue
and dealing with the Taliban.
“If they require our support, our support is available,” he said.

“Our support is unconditional as far as terrorism is concerned.”
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Sunday said the
new strategy was intended to pressure the Taliban into negotiating with
the Afghan government by “sending a message to the Taliban that we are not going anywhere.”

“I think the president’s been clear that this is a dramatic shift in  terms of the military strategy,” Tillerson said on the “Fox News Sunday” programme. He said the US moves would be “dictated by conditions on the ground, informed by battlefield commanders.”

“The president was clear that he’s not setting any arbitrary timelines,” Tillerson said. “Our patience is not unlimited.”

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