Home »Editorials » Trump’s messenger comes calling
Following the emergence of the Taliban in Afghanistan in the mid-1990s, the United States had two choices - to recognize the new government and work to reorientate their worldview to the imperatives of the present times, or remove them by defeating them in war. It chose the latter course. Worse, it has largely persevered in that mode. It has lost thousands of soldiers and spent hundreds of billions of dollars, but victory is nowhere in sight. The realities on the ground remain unchanged, if they are not grimmer for Washington and its protégés in Kabul. What to do now, where to go from here, that's the question President Trump keeps putting to his aides. The American media gives some insight on how "increasingly frustrated" he is with the pace of the war in Afghanistan. At a recent meeting, he is reported to have suggested firing the commander of the US forces in Afghanistan, General Nicholson, because "he is not winning the war," and "we are losing." The military high command would prefer the word "stalemate." NBC News concurred, by saying the US military has "become bogged down in Afghanistan."

The US Assistant Secretary for South Asia and Central Asian Affairs and Acting Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Alice Wells, was in Islamabad on Thursday and held an extensive exchange of perspectives with Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua. The host government conveyed to the visiting US official that "all efforts should be geared towards a politically negotiated settlement under an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process. Pakistan remains ready to extend full assistance to that end." Such an assurance should put paid to insinuations that Pakistan wants the Afghan Taliban to win and come back to power.

And if what Secretary Janjua told Alice Wells was not enough of an assurance, there was this rare message from the GHQ in Rawalpindi. Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa condemned the Taliban attack which killed two American soldiers, and offered condolences. Pakistan is facing "a similar trial of blood in fight against the common threat of terrorism," he was quoted by the ISPR. Pakistan has always condemned killings of Afghan citizens and soldiers in terrorist attacks, but this is the first time it has done so in the case of foreign troops in that country talking victim to terrorism. Petty-minded elements may condemn this as volte-face on the part of Pakistan, but it is not. Despite being a severe victim of the fallout of the war in Afghanistan, Pakistan has done more than other so-called friend of Afghanistan.

By accepting realities on the ground, the Trump administration would be paving the way for peace in Afghanistan, and peace restored is the only solution there. If Washington is being misled by interested quarters - India, for example - it would be trivializing the rare opportunity of restoring peace in Afghanistan. The United States had missed that opportunity in Afghanistan when the Taliban came to power in Kabul. And that is something it should remember for generations.



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