–NSA says Trump’s speech counter-productive to regional peace
–Hale says Pakistan has no role in regional violence
–US policy was taken out of context by the media
ISLAMABAD: US Ambassador in Islamabad David Hale called on National Security Advisor Lt Gen (retd) Nasser Khan Janjua on Thursday to discuss US President Donald Trump’s new strategy on Afghanistan and South Asia, announced on August 20 in his address at Fort Myers.
Ambassador Hale said that the press had taken the policy piece by piece instead of interpreting it as a whole. 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.
US Ambassador displayed a cooperative outlook and expressed his desire to work closely with Pakistan to find solutions.
He added that the US policy supported the role of regional countries in a peaceful settlement and Pakistan had an important role to play. The US was thinking of reviving and accelerating the QCG and the Six-plus-One process in Afghanistan where Pakistan will have a leading role. The US recognised Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war on terror and hoped that it would continue to play its cooperative role.
The ambassador further clarified that additional troops in Afghanistan will be deployed as trainers for the Afghan Armed Forces. Enhanced authority for decision making given to field commanders meant a quick action against all terrorist groups, including the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
“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, the ambassador said the US government was aware of 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.
The NSA welcomed the US ambassador’s cooperative attitude, saying 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. He said the Trump speech at the Fort Myers was deeply disappointing and had deeply hurt the feelings of the government and 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, he said, adding that it gives way regional fragility and imbalance. That is why the people, parliament and the government reacted strongly to the Trump statement.
The NSA stressed the need for working together for bringing stability to Pakistan. 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 for rising violence in Afghanistan. He said the US policy in Afghanistan needs some revamping to avoid such escalating situation in the war-torn country. 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.
Reiterating the risks and dangers of a purely military strategy, NSA suggested the 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.
The NSA also clarified to the US ambassador that any kinetic action will further vitiate the situation and hence be avoided. The ambassador agreed and said we rather need to normalize the situation.
The NSA and ambassador both reiterated to work very closely to find solution to seek the closure of this conflict in Afghanistan.