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Nawai-Waqt, Pakistan

Obama, Karzai Discussions on US
Presence in Afghanistan After 2014

The only solution for peace in the region is the full withdrawal of the U.S. from Afghanistan according to schedule, which is in the interest of the U.S. as well.

Translated By Fauzia Iqbal

13 January 2013

Edited by Kyrstie Lane

Pakistan - Nawai-Waqt - Original Article (Urdu)

The president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, met with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington, where the two presidents exchanged views on the post-2014 situation in Afghanistan. A joint declaration said that the two leaders held discussions concerning a security agreement relating to the manner in which U.S. forces would remain in Afghanistan after 2014. Both leaders expressed the view that the presence of U.S. forces in Afghanistan could be possible even in 2014. In the course of a joint press conference President Obama welcomed recent steps taken by Pakistan against terrorism and extremism. He said that Pakistan's role is important in the process of reconciliation with the Afghan Taliban, Pakistan's announcement regarding the release of Taliban leaders was appreciated, talks would be convened with members of the Afghan Taliban Peace Council, and Pakistan's help would also be taken in this process. He expressed gratitude for cooperation between the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan toward the cause of peace. President Karzai announced that he will relinquish his post of president next year, in 2014.

It is welcome that President Obama expressed satisfaction with the steps taken by Pakistan against terrorists; however, there are numerous aspects of this that need scrutiny. Firstly, Obama must be aware that the state of Pakistan had been asked for its cooperation in the war initiated by the U.S. against global terrorism after the incident of 9/11. With the passage of time this war became an albatross around Pakistan's neck. The international community divested itself of its responsibility and made it solely Pakistan's responsibility, for which Pakistan had to make incredible sacrifices. Not only were 40,000 Pakistanis, including 5,000 sons of its military, martyred, but from an economic perspective too, Pakistan's economy was ruined. Initial estimates place the loss at around $70 billion. But even more damaging is America's undue closeness with Pakistan's number one enemy, India. Political observers believe that the U.S. is seeking to entrust India with a major role in Afghanistan, which is not acceptable to Pakistan in any way.

The U.S. has been very openhearted in opening doors for and lavishing favors on India. It enacted the Civil Nuclear Energy Agreement with India, lifting all due economic sanctions from that country. On the other hand, the ally on the front lines was grossly ignored, to the extent that, at one stage, Pakistan was excluded from the process of three-party discussions. Without Pakistan's cooperation U.S. and NATO forces cannot remain in Afghanistan, nor withdraw from it peaceably. By ignoring Pakistan, the U.S. failed miserably in protecting its interests in Afghanistan. As a result of this, it has now changed its strategy. It is encouraging that Obama praised Pakistan's role in countering terrorism during the course of his meeting with the visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Now Obama is acknowledging that peace is not possible in this region without the cooperation of Pakistan and Afghanistan. That Obama perceives the agreed upon goals against terrorism to be achievable is also comforting. It is in this connection that Kabul, Islamabad and Washington have reached a consensus that the solution to the Afghan problem lies in talking to the different stakeholders in the Afghan leadership.

It may be recalled that six countries in the region, Afghanistan, Turkey, Pakistan, the U.S., China and Russia have embarked on endeavors to solve the Afghan problem, but these endeavors could not gain credibility, and the strategy had to be changed. Pakistan has repeatedly expressed the resolve to make these endeavors successful, its sole objective being the maintenance of peace on its western border. The biggest worry for the U.S. is the situation that may arise in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops, and now it is apparent to everyone that peace cannot be maintained in the region without Pakistan being included in the process.

The U.S. committed a big mistake in invading Afghanistan. The U.S. and its allies invaded Afghanistan without examining the country's ancient and recent history. Afghanistan became a graveyard for the troops of the Soviet Union, the burial ground of abundant ultra-modern weapons and the cause of the most recent defeat and scattering of a superpower, the wounds from which Russia is licking to this day. Now the U.S., also, is facing more or less the same unfavorable conditions, although the U.S. is using other countries as fuel for its war. Topping this list of countries is Pakistan, which has sacrificed 40,000 individuals in the war. This number is far greater than the losses of all the other countries involved in some manner in the war, including the losses of the U.S., which is directly involved in the war.

The U.S. economy is sinking on account of the Iraqi and Afghan wars. Long ago, the sinking economies of the Ottoman and British empires were the cause of their shrinking and becoming confined. More recently, the Soviet Union also suffered scattering on account of the weakness of its economy.

The world had started to feel some hope that by completely withdrawing from Afghanistan in 2014, the U.S. would strengthen its economy and secure itself from defeat and weakening. But it seems that U.S. leaders have still not learned this lesson from history. If the U.S. economy continues to weaken in this manner, then China will gain economic supremacy over it in a few decades.

Hamid Karzai has announced his separation from power in 2014. But before that time comes, Karzai, weighed down as he is by favors from the U.S., may sign the agreement — either willingly or under duress — for a continued U.S. presence in Afghanistan after 2014. If he does this, it will have dangerous consequences. The hope that had arisen for peace to ensue in the region after the withdrawal of the U.S. and its allies is seen to be fading because of the prospect of the expected Washington-Kabul agreement. The people who were willing to take the path of negotiation and peace will once again find cause to bear arms.

This agreement cannot prove beneficial to any, including America, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The only solution for peace in the region is the full withdrawal of the U.S. from Afghanistan according to schedule, which is in the interest of the U.S. as well. By these means, the U.S. can avoid possible defeat and weakening, while peace may become a possibility in the region.



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