DESPARDES (Updated) — Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Thursday said United States must remain engaged in Afghanistan’s reconstruction even if it succeeds in withdrawing troops and ending its longest war.
A senior Pakistani defense official (based in the Middle East), on being asked to comment on the matter says, “this is a fact, not a desire.”
“The US should remain in the region to control the chaos it has created”.
The foreign minister is currently in the United States on the third leg of his mission to defuse tensions in the Middle East, having already visited Tehran and Riyadh as part of Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts.
Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, Qureshi said: “Peace in Afghanistan is ultimately a shared responsibility and Pakistan […] alone cannot do all that is needed”.
The foreign minister warned the US not to neglect Afghanistan, as was seen after 1989 when Soviet troops pulled out under pressure from guerrillas fighters (Afghan Mujahideen) backed by Washington and Islamabad and supported by Middle Eastern allies.
“Do not repeat the ’80s,” Qureshi said, adding: “Even if there is a successful agreement, challenges will remain there, so the United States and its friends and coalition partners will have to have a more responsible withdrawal.
Withdrawal or withdrawal timeline remains on the discussions table between the US and the Taliban on a ‘war without victory’ which President Trump had called it back in summer of 2017, adding, “We are not nation-building again.”
“The American people are weary of war without victory. Nowhere is this more evident than with the war in Afghanistan, the longest war in American history — 17 years.”
The defense official is of the opinion that the US will never leave a vacuum to be filled by China and Russia. “US will remain in the region”, he said.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he is not authorized to comment on such matters.
Wahab Raofi, an Afghan-American who worked for NATO/International Security Assistance Force as an interpreter in Afghanistan, wrote — after President Trump announced his Afghan and South Asia policy in 2017 — “Note to Trump: Nation Building is the answer in Afghanistan“.
Independent observer say reconstruction and sustainable involvement should be a priority for the US in war-torn and civil strife-ridden Afghanistan unlike post Afghan war in the 1980s.
Qureshi said he has seen a willingness from the Taliban to reduce the violence.
“They should remain engaged — not to fight, but to rebuild.”
“They are pragmatic and not foolish. They are also fatigued,” he said.
The foreign minister is set to meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today on the growing momentum toward a deal between the United States and the Taliban.
With input from AFP.