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Khalilzad stresses end to Pakistan's double game

Khalilzad stresses end to Pakistan's double game

Jan 04, 2018 - 11:57

KABUL (Pajhwok): Former US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad has commended President Donald Trump's tweet about Pakistan's duplicitous role in Afghanistan.

In an article. Khalilzad wrote Pakistan had consistently played a double game, providing just enough sporadic assistance in capturing members of Al Qaeda.

At the same time, he alleged, Pakistan had been harboring, training, and assisting violent extremist groups such as the Taliban and the Haqqani network .

"Islamabad's duplicitous policy has been the single most important factor preventing success in Afghanistan," the Afghanistan-born diplomay said.

In his write-up published in the National Interest, Khalilzad stressed an end to Pakistani support for terrorists if a negotiated settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan was to be achieved.

After the ouster of the Taliban , the United States could have achieved the conditions to win the war on terror in the Afghanistan-Pakistan theatre, he believed.

"But soon Pakistan concocted a complex strategy of cooperating on logistics and occasional help with hunting Al Qaeda leaders in exchange for massive US aid, while simultaneously building out a clandestine programme to reconstitute the Taliban.

"Yet, when evidence began to emerge that Pakistan was providing sanctuary and active support to the Taliban, the Bush administration ... gave Islamabad what amounted to a pass."

He claimed the situation grew worse under the Obama administration, which enhanced US diplomatic engagement and increased the already generous economic and military assistance to Pakistan.

But despite the increased assistance, Pakistan continued with sanctuary and support for the Afghan insurgents based on its territory, the ex-diplomat continued.

US commanders later developed a northern logistical route to cut reliance on Pakistan for logistical access to landlocked Afghanistan, but the Obama administration did not confront Pakistan.

Here are some of the excerpts from the article:

At the end of the day, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen openly stated that the Haqqani Group acted as “a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency,” the ISI.

The network not only carries out deadly attacks but also holds Americans and others as hostages in Pakistan.

With welcome clarity, in his speech announcing a new strategy for Central and South Asia, President Trump said that:

Pakistan has also sheltered the same organizations that try every single day to kill our people. We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting.

But that will have to change, and that will change immediately. No partnership can survive a country’s harboring of militants and terrorists who target U.S. service members and officials. It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order, and to peace.

And the administration provided a list of actions that Pakistan should take.

Islamabad has been unresponsive. The Pakistani military leaders probably believe that the United States once again will get distracted by other crises and that US officials will ultimately be sufficiently fooled by the occasional helpful action to let Pakistan continue to get away with its double game.

However, his tweet indicates that President Trump seems prepared to break with this pattern. Now, the issue is how to implement that resolve. There will be a role for intensified diplomatic engagement, but to fully get Pakistan's attention the United States should also lead a multilateral effort to dramatically increase the costs to Pakistan, and especially to those parts of its security establishment that run Afghan policy. This should involve several steps:

First, sanction the ISI and individual Pakistanis who are involved in supporting insurgents and terrorists, including bans for them and their family members on travel to the United States and freezing of financial assets. U.S. intelligence agencies have the ability to identify everyone playing a role in Pakistan’s pro-terrorist programs, including senior officials. The United States should also designate key figures as supporters of terrorism. Washington should end Pakistan’s status as a major non-NATO ally, a designation that provides benefits such as preferential access for military technology and sales. We should also suspend all military assistance including military support funds.

Second, undertake unilateral U.S. military strikes on insurgent targets in Pakistani territory. While the United States has targeted Al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban with drone and other strikes, it has only on rare occasions attacked insurgents operating against the Coalition and Afghanistan. This has given such groups a free hand.

Third, prepare to designate Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism unless it changes course and abandons support for terrorists  Such a designation will impose ongoing restrictions to assistance, bans on defense exports and sales, limitations on exports of dual use items, and other financial restrictions.

PAN Monitor/mud