WASHINGTON, Feb. 2 (APP): Pakistan and the United States need to collaborate to ensure peaceful democratic transition in Afghanistan, and the Trump administration needs to include non-security considerations into its South Asia strategy as beefing up a fight on the battlefield will not make terrorism go away, security and foreign policy analysts said.
In their separate articles for the online magazine The Hill, Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia program and senior associates for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center and Shazar Shafqat, a counterterrorism and security analyst, pointed out the escalation in violence in recent weeks that posed a deep threat to Afghanistan.
Afghanistan has seen a renewed phase of violence in recent weeks with Taliban militants and ISIS forces wreaking havoc in the war-torn country. More than 130 people were killed in three terrorist attacks claimed by Taliban in addition to attacks carried on by ISIS.
The analysts argued for the need to include political considerations into America’s security-alone approach and the collaboration between Pakistan and the United States, the two old estranged allies which saw their bilateral ties plummeted to a new low after the US State Department withheld security assistance to the South Asian country in the forefront of global war on terrorism.
“Despite any rhetoric to the contrary, United States and Pakistan need to collaborate with each other to ensure peaceful democratic transition in Afghanistan,” wrote Mr Shafqat, underscoring the facts on the ground that necessitate for the two countries to cooperate for a common goal of fighting terrorism.
“Just as China might not be able to fill the gap if Pakistan chooses to completely distance itself from the United States, the Trump administration should also understand the fact that alienating Pakistan doesn’t help its cause in Afghanistan,” he said. “That might sound like a non-starter to some of the analysts in Washington, but that’s how things work in the obscure geostrategic and geopolitical arena of South Asia.”
Talking about the current status of the relationship between Pakistan and the United States, Mr Safqat noted that the ties “isn’t the lowest it has ever been”, referring to the attack that killed Osama bin Laden and the NATO air strike incident at Salala that killed Pakistani soldiers.
For Mr Kugelman, the Trump administration has largely focused on security measures in its new South Asia strategy that included additional troops in Afghanistan and ramping up the battlefield operations which are unlikely to achieve the desired end.
“Without incorporating non-security considerations into Washington’s policy toolkit, those means will be insufficient and the ends unachievable. Failing to make these policy adjustments all but ensures that the relentless and resilient Taliban and ISIS will continue to inflict violence on a nation that has suffered far too much of it, and for far too long.”
Mr Kugelman observed that the US cannot eliminate terrorism by military forces and needs to include diplomatic and economic components that help address dysfunction within the Afghan government and ease tensions with regional players.
Alluding to the escalating violence and militants gaining ground, analysts noted that Taliban controls or contests 40-50 percent of Afghanistan’s nearly 400 districts, which is more territory than at any time since US forces invaded the country. Mr Kugelman also argued there were a variety of factors that contributing to strengthening Taliban and it would be a mistake to assume that the alleged “Pakistani sanctuaries” alone were responsible for the Taliban’s strength.