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By ignoring 'Pakistan problem', Khalilzad and Trump ensuring neither Afghanistan nor US can find peace: Scholar

ANI | February 17, 2020 01:16 PM
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Washington D.C [US], Feb 17 (ANI): Even as the Trump administration prepares for peace deal with Taliban, a scholar with a Washington based think-tank has said that the insurgency in the landlocked country would not have survived without Islamabad's support and by ignoring the "Pakistan problem", Washington is ensuring that neither Afghanistan nor the U.S. can find peace and security.

"There would have been no lasting Taliban insurgency without Islamabad's support, and there will be no peace with Pakistani authorities believing they defeated America and that they can now act with impunity. What is at stake in Afghanistan is not only that country's peace but security for the U.S., as well. By ignoring the Pakistan problem, however, Khalilzad and Trump are ensuring neither Afghanistan nor the U.S. can find peace and security," Michael Rubin said in an opinion piece, dated February 14, in Washington examiner.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, where he specializes in Iran, Turkey, and the broader Middle East.

The American Enterprise Institute is a public policy think tank based in Washington.

In his piece titled, "Pakistan will threaten any Afghan peace deal", Rubin said: "The Trump administration and those applauding an end to the U.S.'s longest war might want to turn a blind eye to problems in Khalilzad's deal, but the Pakistan problem cannot be wished away, nor should the U.S. fall prey to diplomatic wishful thinking and absolve Pakistan of Financial Action Task Force blacklist penalties when it has not taken real action to resolve terror support within its own borders."

The scholar said while the US President is keen to "declare victory" and leave Afghanistan, and highlighted that regardless of the consequences, the "elephant in the room remains Pakistan."

Islamabad has been long accused of harbouring and supporting the Taliban in order to use them as proxies in Afghanistan to maintain its influence.

Rubin also dismissed assertions that the US created the Taliban in order to fight the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan.

"During the fight against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Reagan administration supported the Afghan mujahideen, the precursor to the Northern Alliance and today's Afghan government. The Taliban first emerged in 1994, meaning they were toddlers during the Soviet occupation. Say what you will about the CIA, but they do not arm kindergartners," he said.

The scholar noted that after the Soviet withdrawal, Pakistani authorities initially cast their lot with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a Pashtun and a "psychopath who made up for any lack of military success against the Soviets with tremendous cruelty to Afghanistan's own people."

"Pakistani authorities switched their alliance to the Taliban, however, in recognition of the momentum of the Taliban's rise," he said.

Rubin underlined that Pakistan continued to arm and support the Taliban in order to undercut efforts to create a secure and stable Afghan government in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks and the subsequent start of U.S. military operations against the Taliban in Afghanistan. The scholar said Islamabad not just continued to arm and support the Taliban but also assisted al Qaeda, up to and including offering safe haven to al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden.

"U.S. Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and President Trump may believe a one-week ceasefire (occurring at a time when fighting in Afghanistan is minimal, anyway) will demonstrate enough Taliban sincerity to justify sending U.S. forces home, but they have shown no mechanism to test Pakistani sincerity. Unfortunately, all objective metrics suggest Pakistani leaders have not had a change of heart," he said.

Referring to the Pulwama terror attacks and subsequent Indian air-strike in Balakot, Rubin said Diplomats rushed to address the flare-up between India and Pakistan, and Pakistani diplomats duly promised to restrain "militant" groups within its borders.

"A year on, however, the insincerity of Pakistan's actions is on full display. Rather than take action against designated groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba operating within its territory, the Pakistani government seeks instead to use its diplomatic offices to get the United Nations to make exceptions for Lashkar-e-Taiba and its front groups," said Rubin. (ANI)

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