Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Opinion: Trump Gave Pakistan What It Wanted, But Afghan Peace Is Far From Guaranteed

Shamila N. Chaudhary (@ShamilaCh) is a fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies Foreign Policy Institute and senior fellow at New America. She served as director for Pakistan and Afghanistan on the National Security Council during the Obama administration.

On Tuesday, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan wrapped up a three-day visit to Washington, D.C., at the invitation of President Trump. The much-anticipated visit followed last year's cuts in U.S. aid to Pakistan and wrangling between the two leaders on Twitter, where Trump accused Pakistan of deceit and Khan retorted that Pakistan wasn't to blame for U.S. failures in Afghanistan.

And it was, of course, Afghanistan that figured centrally in Khan's visit, which took place as U.S.-led peace talks continue with the Afghan Taliban. When describing U.S. policy in Afghanistan in a talk on Tuesday, Khan invoked Albert Einstein's definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Khan wanted to let everyone know that under his watch and Trump's leadership, the insanity was now over.

By the time he wrapped up his visit, Khan had secured what Pakistan has always wanted: a seat at the table on Afghanistan, and the Pakistani perspective acknowledged. (Trump even said he'd like to mediate between India and Pakistan over the disputed territory of Kashmir, something India sees as a purely bilateral issue. The State Department later walked Trump's statement back).

The extent to which Pakistan will go to protect what it has gained this week remains to be seen, as does the extent to which the U.S. will want to keep Pakistan happy.

This week, Khan hinted at a future meeting in which he would engage directly with Afghan Taliban leadership. If so, such a meeting would present a tremendous opportunity for Pakistan to cement its seat at the table in the broader infrastructure of the peace talks. The United States will unequivocally appreciate and capitalize on the additional channel of communication to pressure the Afghan Taliban — something to which Trump alluded on Monday during his press conference with Khan.

"I think Pakistan is going to help us out to extricate ourselves," Trump said, later remarking that he preferred this to his "plans on Afghanistan that if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth. It would be gone. It would be over in — literally, in 10 days. And I don't want to do — I don't want to go that route." - Read More

Opinion: Trump Gave Pakistan What It Wanted, But Afghan Peace Is Far From Guaranteed


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