US President Donald Trump’s strategy for Afghanistan will meet the same fate as the plans of his predecessors, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said.
In an interview to Bloomberg, Abbasi said: “From day one we have been saying very clearly that the military strategy in Afghanistan has not worked and it will not work.” He added that there has to be a ‘political settlement’ to the issue. “That’s the bottom-line,” said the Pakistani PM.
Abbasi said that while his government supports the fight against terrorism, it won’t let the war in Afghanistan spill into Pakistan.
“We do not intend to allow anybody to fight Afghanistan’s battle on Pakistan’s soil,” Abbasi said during the interview. “Whatever has to happen in Afghanistan should be happening in Afghanistan,” he said, adding that Pakistan doesn’t harbour terrorists.
Pakistan’s civil and military leaderships are on the same page over the issue, as Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had made a similar statement in a meeting with his Afghan counterpart Gen Sharif Yaftali during a meeting in Dushanbe the other day.
Afghanistan’s government is slowly losing its hold over the country with the Taliban now controlling about 40% of the country, which US officials say could not have been possible without help from Pakistan’s military – a charge vehemently denied by Islamabad.
Pakistan Army has been conducting its own offensive against terrorists, with the latest operation in the Rajgal Valley of Khyber Agency concluding earlier this month. 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, according to the Federal Ministry for Finance.
President Trump caused an uproar in Pakistan after he called on the country to stop providing ‘safe havens’ to terrorists. He also pledged to increase US troop deployment in Afghanistan in a bid to stem Taliban militancy, which Washington has so far been unable to rein in in spite of costing the global superpower about 714 billion US dollars and several thousand lives.
Top US diplomat, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said that Washington’s new strategy is 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’ TV programme. He said 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.”