ISLAMABAD: US Ambassador in Islamabad David Hale on Thursday said President Donald Trump did not blame Pakistan for failure in Afghanistan and the United States recognized Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war on terror.
“The press had generally taken the policy piece by piece instead of interpreting it as a whole,” he said in a meeting with National Security Adviser Lt. Gen (R) Nasser Khan Janjua to discuss the new US strategy on Afghanistan and South Asia, announced by President Trump on 20th August in his address at Fort Myers. Cordial discussion lasted for fifty minutes.
He clarified that President Trump did not blame Pakistan for failure in Afghanistan. It was also wrong to assume that the policy recommended a purely military solution or that engagement with Pakistan had been ruled out. Military strategy, he said, was just one piece of the policy which espoused a political solution.
The US Ambassador displayed a cooperative outlook and expressed his desire to work closely with Pakistan to find solutions. The policy, he added, supported the role of regional countries in a peaceful settlement where Pakistan had an important role to play.
“The US was thinking of reviving and accelerating the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) and the Six-plus-One process on Afghanistan where Pakistan will have a leading role. US recognized Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war on terror and hoped that it would continue to play its cooperative role,” he said.
He further clarified that additional troops in Afghanistan would be deployed as trainers of Afghan Armed Forces. Enhanced authority for decision making given to field commanders meant quick action against all terrorist groups, including the TTP who were enemy of Pakistan, he added.
“The Kabul government had also been called upon to realign itself for playing its full role in controlling the insurgency and winning over the hearts and minds of its people while improving its governance.” the ambassador underlined.
Regarding the role envisaged for India, Hale said his government was aware about the feelings in Pakistan on this matter and was ready to play its role in reducing tensions between the two neighbours. He further clarified that India’s role was envisaged for economic development only.
Thanking Ambassador for the cooperative outlook, NSA said that Pakistan was taking its time to fully examine the new policy and considering all options and would like to receive further details from the US side.
“This notwithstanding, President Trump’s address at Fort Myers was disappointing and had deeply hurt the feelings of the Government and the people of Pakistan. Pakistan had been wrongly blamed, threatened and negatively projected to the world which was unacceptable”.
“Our nuclear weapons were wrongly linked with terrorism which was totally uncalled for. The new policy has created uncertainties and further added to the regional fragility and imbalance. That is why the people, the parliament and the government had sharply reacted to President Trump’s statement,” said Nasser Khan categorically.
NSA stressed the need for working together to stabilize Afghanistan. He said we all should work together to ‘Seek the Closure of Conflict’ in Afghanistan instead of winning it.
Victory in war, he said, resides in the way war is prosecuted. He identified faulty persecution of war in Afghanistan as the reason of rise in violence.
He further said one should not try and win the war in Afghanistan by way of vengeance as this will further spread the conflict and spiral things out of control.
The US ambassador agreed with the suggestion to seek the closure of conflict in Afghanistan. Regarding the role envisaged for India in Afghanistan, NSA said that creation of competitiveness with in a campaign and alliance is counter-productive. We should not go that way, he said.
Reiterating the risks and dangers of a purely military strategy, NSA suggested establishment of a parallel fully-empowered Political Authority by US in Afghanistan that would work in parallel to the military commanders to help find a peaceful, political solution to the conflict and bring the perpetual conflict in Afghanistan to a quick closure that was in the best interest of all parties.
NSA also clarified to the US Ambassador that any kinetic action will further vitiate the situation and hence be avoided. Ambassador US agreed and said we rather need to normalize the situation.
The NSA and the ambassador both reiterated to work very closely to find solution to seek the closure of this conflict in Afghanistan.