Challenges and opportunities


Time to take on the former and cash in the latter

By the end of this year the entire foreign fighting forces in Afghanistan would return to their own countries. Left behind would be 12,500 foreign troops with the limited role of training and advising the Afghan security forces. The Afghan forces would henceforth have to deal with the terrorists on their own while the government in Kabul will negotiate with the Afghan Taliban. The US would only ensure, without direct involvement, that Al-Qaeda does not become active in Afghanistan again.

The US reliance on Pakistan will be considerably reduced. There will be no more long lines of trucks carrying NATO supplies. It would be easier for Washington to turn to alternate routes in case of problems on Pakistan’s side. With the US troops no more in a combative position, terrorists from across the border will pose danger only to the Afghan troops. And if they do, Kabul would use Pakistani terrorist groups sheltering in Afghanistan for tit for tat action.

Some of the challenges that Pakistan would face were hinted at by US Special Envoy Daniel Feldman. There would be no extension in Kerry-Lugar legislation and the present inflow of foreign assistance would be gradually tapered off. For any new assistance, the executive would request the US Congress for appropriations which would entail the all too familiar mantra: ‘Do more’. Pakistan must not hope for any concessions in trade or investment. It will have to compete with other countries in the open market. The US is not likely to go out of its way to support Pakistan in IFCs.

The new challenges can be turned into opportunities by revising the internal and external policies. Economic policies with emphasis on self-reliance have to formulated. There should be a greater emphasis on improving relations with the neighbours, particularly India and Afghanistan through enhanced trade and people to people contacts. All terrorists irrespective of their classification have to be taken out to have peace in the country and for improvement of relations with the neighbours.

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