US wants Indo-Pak talks to include Afghanistan
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): The outgoing Obama administration wants Indo-Pak dialogue to include Afghanistan, even as a top US expert on South Asia favoured a strong anti-Islamabad policy by the incoming Trump government.
“We do think that any regional dialogue between India, Pakistan for including Afghanistan and others to counter terrorism would be desirable,” Peter Lavoy, senior director for South Asian affairs, told Pajhwok Afghan News in an interview.
“Terrorism is a threat to all of us and no country will be safe, unless terrorism is irradiated in every other country, especially in the neighbourhood,” said Lavoy, who heads the White House National Security Council on South Asia.
Lavoy, who has spent several decades dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan-related issues in various capacities in the US government, said it was clear to all that many terrorist groups operated in Pakistan.
Even though the Pakistani government and security apparatus were trying to diminish terrorist strength in Pakistan, Lavoy said Islamabad had prioritised its fight against the outfits that target the country first and had placed less priority on the terrorists targeting its neighbours.
“We have been clear and I believe with India and Afghanistan, Pakistan cannot, and must not, discriminate between terrorist groups. It must view all terrorist groups as its enemy and must fight terrorism indiscriminately. We continue to work with Pakistan, encourage them to do so, and have offered to help with our capacity and willingness to do so.”
The United Sates, he said, remained concerned about Al Qaeda even though it had been significantly disrupted because of continuous efforts in the Af-Pak region. “This was something President Obama talked about in his State of the Union and other addresses on the threat that both of these groups posed to the United States,” he said.
Meanwhile, top South Asian expert Daniel Markey said the incoming administration needed to be tough on Pakistan.
“Trump’s obsession with terrorism and his top policy advisors with military experience in Afghanistan (National Security Advisor-designate Mike Flynn and his picked for secretary of defense, Gen. James Mattis) will, sooner or later, expose fundamental differences with Pakistan,” he wrote in the Foreign Policy magazine.
Pakistan’s leaders were deluding themselves if they believed the congratulatory phone call between Trump and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in which Trump reportedly called Pakistan a fantastic country, fantastic place of fantastic people, actually boded well for their relationship, he said.
“At worst, Pakistan is an enemy, a state sponsor of terrorism in all but name, a host to anti-Afghan, anti-Indian jihadi militants with American blood on their hands,” he wrote.
“It is widely accepted in US policy circles that Pakistan’s military and intelligence services prefer to maintain friendly ties with some terrorists for two reasons: First, they are useful proxies to destabilse Pakistan’s neighbours, and second, they would also be deadly adversaries, if confronted head-on,” he said.
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