Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
August 28, 2017
Pakistan’s prime minister says U.S. President Donald Trump’s strategy for the war in Afghanistan is doomed to failure.
“From Day One, we have been saying very clearly the military strategy in Afghanistan has not worked, and it will not work,” Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said in an interview with Bloomberg News published on August 27.
There has to be a “political settlement,” he added. “That’s the bottom line.”
Abbasi, who assumed office three weeks ago, said that while Islamabad supports the fight against terrorists in neighboring Afghanistan, it will not let the conflict spill over into Pakistan.
On August 21, Trump set out his administration’s new “path forward” for Afghanistan, where U.S.-led forces have been fighting a 16-year war against Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and other extremist groups attempting to overthrow the government in Kabul.
Speaking at a military base near Washington, D.C., Trump vowed “to win” the war and said his strategy will not be based on “arbitrary timelines” but on conditions on the ground.
Following Trump’s address, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis suggested the United States and other countries would send more troops to Afghanistan.
In setting out the new strategy, Trump also took aim at Pakistan, saying Washington will no longer tolerate Pakistan offering “safe havens” to extremist groups, a claim Islamabad denies.
“We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens,” Trump said. “Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor terrorists.”
In an apparent response, Pakistan postponed a visit by U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells due to begin on August 28.
Pakistan did not say the postponement was linked to Trump’s allegations, but Islamabad has heavily criticized the comments.
“At the request of the government of Pakistan, Acting Assistant Secretary Wells’ trip has been postponed until a mutually convenient time,” the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad said.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on August 27 said the administration’s new strategy in Afghanistan is designed to put pressure on the Taliban to enter into negotiations with Kabul by “sending a message…that we are not going anywhere.”
“I think the president’s been clear that this is a dramatic shift in terms of the military strategy,” Tillerson told Fox News Sunday.
With reporting by Bloomberg, Reuters, and The Express Tribune
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