by WorldTribune Staff, August 28, 2017
Pakistani officials said U.S. President Donald Trump’s outline for a new strategy in Afghanistan “won’t work.”
Saying that Trump’s plan is “doomed to failure,” Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told Bloomberg in an interview published on Aug. 27 that “From Day One, we have been saying very clearly the military strategy in Afghanistan has not worked, and it will not work.”
There has to be a “political settlement,” said Abbasi, who assumed office three weeks ago. “That’s the bottom line.”
Trump accused Pakistan of offering safe haven to “agents of chaos” and suggested relations would be adjusted.
Pakistan “has much to lose by continuing to harbor terrorists,” Trump said in his speech on Aug. 21. “No partnership can survive the harboring of militants.”
Islamabad denied claims that it has been soft on militancy.
Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. Army commander in Afghanistan, said on Aug. 26 that the U.S. knows that the Afghan Taliban leadership is in the Quetta and Peshawar areas of Pakistan.
“Support for terrorists and insurgents has to be reduced, has to be stopped,” Nicholson said in an interview with Afghan television channel Tolo News.
Nicholson’s remarks were rejected by Pakistani Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, who told the Dawn newspaper that Taliban militants don’t need to hide in Pakistan since they “have control over so much land and resources in Afghanistan.”
A U.S. report found earlier this year that the Taliban controls or contests control of about 40 percent of the country.
“Pakistan is fully committed to rooting out terrorism and no other country can match us in terms of the number of sacrifices made in the war on terror,” Iqbal said.
Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said the U.S. should refrain from blaming its failures in Afghanistan on Pakistan.
“America used Pakistan as its ally, but Pakistan suffered unbearable losses in the war on terror,” he told Geo News TV on Aug. 27. “If the U.S. doesn’t trust Pakistan, it should make preparations to repatriate the Afghan refugees Pakistan has been hosting for nearly 35 years.”
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Aug. 27 that the Trump administration’s new strategy in Afghanistan is designed to put pressure on the Taliban to enter into negotiations with Kabul by “sending a message…that we are not going anywhere.”
“I think the president’s been clear that this is a dramatic shift in terms of the military strategy,” Tillerson told Fox News Sunday.
Tillerson had said earlier that the U.S. could consider punishing Pakistan or cutting off its status as a major non-NATO ally if Islamabad doesn’t crack down on terrorist groups.
Pakistan is one of 16 countries to currently enjoy “major non-NATO ally” status, which allows close military cooperation.