Zero option only an Afghan choice, says Dobbins
WASHINGTON (PAN): The United States would go for “zero option” – meaning no troops on the ground – only if the government of Afghanistan wanted so, a top Obama Administration official has said, believing Kabul was not in favour of such an option after 2014.
“Only if the Afghan government chooses it, it’s certainly not our choice. It’s not something we’re intending,” Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, James Dobbins, told BBCHindi.Com in an interview released on Wednesday, when asked about the zero option.
Responding to a question, Dobbins said such an option came from Afghanistan government. “No it came from Afghans but we don’t believe the Afghans would want us to leave. We believe that the Afghans would want—Afghanistan needs a continued NATO presence, they want a continued NATO presence and we’ve promised them that there will continue to be a NATO presence,” he said.
Dobbins said there still existed trust deficit between the US and Pakistan. “To some degree, I mean Pakistan and the US have had an on again off again relationship for several decades now and I think we’re trying to repair that, we’re trying to narrow those differences,” he said.
“It does mean that we each have to have a very clear understanding of what our interests are, what our policies are and what our activities are and that requires a degree of candor that hasn’t always been present in the dialogue but which we’re hopeful will become much stronger in the coming weeks and months,” he said.
About his recent visit to Pakistan, he said he had discussed there the issue of safe havens. “We discussed the issue at some length. Clearly there are issues of Pakistani capabilities as well as intentions in that regard. Pakistan is under attack itself from militants and we understand that a significant element of the Pakistani armed forces are indeed committed to these operations,” he said.
“Nevertheless we do remain concerned about the relative freedom with which Afghan insurgents can operate out of Pakistan. There’s also a threat of insurgents in Afghanistan operating in Pakistan but the dominant infiltration is from Pakistan into Afghanistan and we believe that Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States need to collaborate much more closely to deal with this threat of cross border infiltration,” Dobbins said.
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