Is Trump’s letter a failure of his “New South Asia” policy?
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2018-12-04 12:30:29

Is Trump’s letter a failure of his “New South Asia” policy?

 

Both foreign and information ministry of Pakistan, along with the U.S officials, have confirmed that a letter from the President of United States of America Donald Trump has been received by Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan. In the letter, President Trump has asked Pakistan to aid in the ongoing negotiation process with Taliban.

 

It is the first constructive development between two leaders after the exchange of fierce tweets two weeks ago when Donald Trump accused Pakistan of playing a double game vis-à-vis Afghanistan.

“Since Pakistan has always advocated a political settlement to end the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. decision is welcomed,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “Pakistan reiterates its commitment to play a facilitation role in good faith. Peace and stability in Afghanistan remain a shared responsibility.”

The on-going Dialogue Process with the Taliban
United States had initiated a backdoor negotiations process with the Taliban via the Qatar office of the group which was spearheaded by the U.S state department. The purpose of the back channel communication was to establish the grounds based on which the direct negotiations between the stakeholders would be carried out in future.

Pakistan has always expressed its reservations over the exploitation of lawless Afghan terrain by India to carry out espionage and terrorism in the country.

Taliban have always denied the credibility of the Afghan government and asked for direct negotiations with the United States of America whereas the US has been persistent in their view that the matter should take into account the perspective from all factions of the Afghan community. After a series of talks with Alice Wells, a senior state department official, the US-appointed Zalmay Khalilzad as the focal person. Mr. Khalilzad carried out extensive tours of countries who have had historical ties with the Taliban such as UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.

The US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is expected to visit Islamabad today to proceed on the developments pertaining to the talks with the insurgent group in Afghanistan. The letter from President Trump is seen as the prelude to visiting as to make sure the complete cooperation of Pakistan with the US envoy. Pakistan has always presented itself as the mediator and facilitator for the dialogue process toward the long-term, sustainable peace of Afghanistan and eventually the whole region.

The Failure of South Asia Policy
President Donald Trump announced the “New South Asia Policy” in September 2017 in which India was declared as the frontline ally for aiding the United States toward the peace and nation-building in Afghanistan. Under the policy, Pakistan was not only sidelined but rebuked and the military aid was suspended even after all the sacrifices the country had made for the cause of global peace.

United States had initiated a backdoor negotiations process with the Taliban via the Qatar office of the group which was spearheaded by the U.S state department.

The policy, in general, was a win for the Indian lobbying efforts in Washington but was doomed to fail as the lack of capacity and influence for India to actually have an impact on the course of affairs inside Afghanistan. Pakistan has always expressed its reservations over the exploitation of lawless Afghan terrain by India to carry out espionage and terrorism in the country.

The promotion in the status and the subsequent U.S support for India further troubled Pakistan, but the protest went unnoticed in Washington. Within a year, the reports started to emerge that even President Trump’s own aides at the White House are stressing the need of revisiting the South Asia Policy as it was not delivering the intended results.

The letter to the Prime Minister Imran Khan tends to be the endorsement of the very fact. Sustainable peace in Afghanistan is the only way out for the long-term regional and global peace. Pakistan has always been willing to play the role in the process but Washington also needs to care about Pakistan’s national interests and reservations for purposeful bilateral relations between both countries.

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