Is Zalmay Khalilzad, the US particular envoy for Afghanistan, laying a booby entice for Pakistan within the “Afghan reconciliation” undertaking? Is the request for “facilitation” a bait to hit Pakistan again with the identical outdated allegation of double-game?
Think about: Pakistan – utilizing its a lot touted leverage manages to persuade Taliban into peace negotiations with the Kabul authorities. Each agree on the long run plan of action together with the US-led troop withdrawal – even when symbolic. This provides President Trump the declaration of victory that he’s so desperately on the lookout for. This will likely additionally usher within the infamous Black Water of Erik Prince again into Afghanistan. However, as soon as the symbolic pullout is full, the inter-Afghan dialogue stalls and violence resurges.
The place would it not go away Pakistan? Battered and bruised once more, say shortly earlier than the Afghan presidential elections? Most likely uncovered to all type of ostracization, just because
a) all of the fingers will as soon as once more level to, and demonise Pakistan for the breakdown
b) the Afghan, US and Indian media can be up in arms to level to the contradiction within the Pakistani narrative since 2015 ( now we have solely restricted affect over Taliban)
c) US-Indo-Afghan officers will ratchet up efforts to once more expose Pakistan’s “nexus with the Afghan Taliban, citing the “Pakistani facilitation” within the settlement main as much as the US pullout, and
c) President Trump, infamous for his whimsical actions, could revert to his “unique views” on Pakistan, and step up the worldwide squeeze on it by mechanisms such because the Monetary Motion Process Pressure (FATF).
Little question, Khalilzad’s diplomacy has unfolded a brand new dynamics within the seek for reconciliation starting with the discharge of veteran Taliban leaders and direct talks. Regardless of direct engagement with the US, the Taliban have raked up violence to underline their subject power. And, as a comfort for Pakistan, all this has coincided with a uncommon assertion by the brand new CENTCOM chief on the position that geography has accorded to Pakistan.
“I do consider that any resolution in Afghanistan goes to require the help of Pakistan. It needs to be a regional resolution not only a resolution centered in Afghanistan. It’s in Pakistan’s long-term curiosity to have a authorities in Afghanistan that’s secure that they will do enterprise with. It is going to be arduous to succeed in a settlement with out some type of help from Pakistan.”
Lt Gen Kenneth F. McKenzie, the subsequent commander of the US Central Command, mentioned this at a Congressional affirmation listening to. He additionally revealed that the dying toll of Afghan safety forces was unsustainable and that’s why a peace deal was wanted.
The final additionally cautioned that the Afghan safety forces “should not there but and if we left precipitously proper now I don’t consider they’d be capable of efficiently defend their nation.” This will likely sound candy music to many ears in Pakistan, the place a lot of stake-holders seem like inflated with a way of significance that President Trump’s letter introduced with it.
However the best way forward is each precarious and thorny. Pakistan’s earlier declare of “affect over Taliban” actually became a baggage. Now, after releasing three Taliban veterans, and having acquired Khalilzad on the highest stage signifies Pakistani leaders are once more positioning themselves for a “greater” position within the Afghan reconciliation. The US desires them to persuade Taliban to not militarily overrun the nation if the US pulls out. In addition they count on Pakistan to once more ship the Afghan Taliban for direct peace negotiations with Kabul.
This additionally dovetails Pakistan’s opposition to an abrupt US withdrawal. The military spokesperson has additionally articulated categorically that his nation wouldn’t prefer to see the US fail in Afghanistan and as an alternative go away as a buddy of the area.
Importantly, this seems to be just like the US could use the Pakistani shoulders – but once more – for engineering a symbolic pullout to fulfill Trump’s ego. However even when that occurs, what can be Pakistan’s destiny in case the peace talks broke down? The buck will possible once more cross to the scapegoat i.e. Pakistan.
Briefly, Pakistan’s diplomacy is on trial for certain; it in fact ought to assist its neighbours and likewise work along with the US for peace in Afghanistan. However one would hope – that for the short-term goal of accommodating US plans – it doesn’t stroll right into a booby entice in an already explosive state of affairs.
Revealed in Day by day Occasions, December 8th 2018.