Pentagon, India don’t want troops out of Afghanistan

By Gen (R) Ejaz Awan

Prominent defense analyst and former General Officer Commanding of Swat Maj Gen (R) Ejaz Awan has said that the US security establishment and Indian opportunists don’t want the US to pull out of Afghanistan, “Indians and Pentagon don’t want US troops to pull out of Afghanistan and hence they wish to pressure the US President Trump to rethink his decision.

The most important role in the Afghan peace process is of regional countries. With Pentagon and CIA resisting the US President’s decision of pulling out of Afghanistan, the Kabul attack might affect the parlays”, Gen Awan said. Maj. Gen (R) Ejaz Awan made these comments while speaking to Dr. Moeed Pirzada on his prime-time show “Live with Moeed Pirzada” at GNN.

He also said that Pentagon and India might not be able to flex their way out of Trump’s decision “The United States is under immense pressure to resolve the Afghan issue politically with 17 years of human rights violations hanging over its head”. Pentagon’s semi-annual Afghan report claimed that Indians interpreted the ongoing overtures as an opportunity to boost economic activities in Afghanistan.

Deadly attack in Kabul on a government building on 25th December, which claimed more than 40 lives, has cast a shadow over the historic Afghan peace parlays which involved Pakistan, UAE, KSA, and the United States after more than two decades on a single table. The situation was pushed towards further ambiguity when the Afghan Taliban denied having any involvement in the attack.

Major General (R) Ejaz Awan, commenting on the role of regional stakeholders in Afghanistan dialogue said, ”Taliban have always accepted responsibilities of attacks conducted on Afghan soil, but they have denied this Kabul incident whence it is evident that India is playing its cards to undo the peace process.”

The timing of attack forged a menace in prevailing Afghan peace talks. The pre-September 11 attack scenario is repeating itself i.e. Saudi Arabia, UAE, Pakistan, and America are set to decide the fate of Afghanistan’s overdue peace. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s visits to Afghanistan, China, Iran, and Russia are aimed at reaching out to the regional stakeholders for Afghanistan reconciliation talks.

India’s role in the process has received a serious setback. Indian involvement in the process has also been evidently undermined since Zalmay Khalilzad’s two visits for consultation have by-passed the Indian role in Taliban negotiation. Zalmay Khalilzad is scheduled to participate in Raisina dialogue  to be held on January 8-10  and is expected to normalize the Indian stance in Afghan peace talks.

Mr. Awan said that the Taliban want to delay the upcoming Afghan general election in order to get their share in interim setup “The ruling Mashran (leaders) object to this possibility”. Similarly, he said, “the US election and Trump’s pre-election manifesto of withdrawing forces from Afghanistan and Syria is diverging Indian interest in the region.

The Trump administration’s decision of 7,000 US troops withdrawal which prompted James Mattis’, Secretary of Defenses’ resignation, induced skepticism from Delhi”. The pre-September 11 attack scenario is repeating itself i.e. Saudi Arabia, UAE, Pakistan, and America are set to decide the fate of Afghanistan’s overdue peace. Indian narratives on Afghanistan peace process have put serious questions against Beijing-Islamabad-Kabul trajectory.

The recent appointment of Amrullah Saleh, an anti-Pakistan politician as interior minister has also cast a shadow of doubt over the Afghan President’s sentiments towards Pakistan being part of the parlays and the post-US-extradition rehabilitation. Amrullah Saleh, Interior Minister Afghanistan, in his tweet, said that “Pakistan army and the ISI ordered its proxy terrorists to agree to dialogue in order for Pakistan to secure a loan from the IMF and earn some respect from Trump.” Pentagon’s semi-annual Afghan report claimed that Indians interpreted the ongoing overtures as an opportunity to boost economic activities in Afghanistan. And, Trump’s South Asia policy is molding Pakistan’s role in the region i.e. to be pressurized for playing a constructive role in Afghanistan’s peace building process.

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