The Center of Pakistan and International Relations (COPAIR) organized a webinar, titled “Afghanistan and America’s Future Role in the World,” on August 25, 2021

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The Center of Pakistan and International Relations (COPAIR), Islamabad, organized a webinar, titled “Afghanistan and America’s Future Role in the World” on August 25, 2021. The guest speaker of the session was Milton Bearden, the former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) station chief in Pakistan. Khalid Latif, Executive Director COPAIR moderated the event.

President COPAIR Amna Malik delivered introductory remarks in which she expressed her gratitude to the guest speaker, Chairperson COPAIR Ambassador (R) Khalid Mehmood and audience for their presence. Ms. Amna Malik offered her introductory remarks and delineated COPAIR’s current focus on Afghanistan. She said that the purpose of the webinar was to evaluate the role of major powers, especially the US, in the Afghanistan’s end game and how its implications are failing on other South Asian countries, especially Pakistan.

Milton Bearden provided the historical perspective about the US role in Afghanistan. He also repeated the regret that the US turned its back to Afghanistan and Pakistan after defeating the Soviet Union in 1989. Absence of a major after-care program from the U.S. led to the civil war in Afghanistan in the 90s.
Speaking of the Taliban’s current posture, Milton regarded them as the Taliban 2.0, for their transformation into becoming more pragmatist, less ideologues, and clever and wise in dealing with the international community.

Milton sounded bullish about the Taliban’s future role. He expected that the Taliban would like to involve the United States, along with China and Russia, in Afghanistan’s economic development, not least for the mineral resources. In his view, there is potentially going to be a mix of competition and cooperation in Afghanistan between the US, China, Russia, Iran, and Pakistan.

Responding to the question of what went wrong on part of the US for having an ignoble end to its 20 year-long war campaign in Afghanistan, Milton assessed four failures in general on part of the invaders in Afghanistan. They brought foreign armies; placed an unpopular emir in Kabul; invader’s allies mistreated other Afghan factions; and the invaders did not pay tribute to the warlords.

Ambassador Khalid Mehmood deplored that the U.S. war had ended in a huge human loss and material destruction. He thought that the US had multiple opportunities in the past to withdraw in honor and make a compromise with the Taliban. Now, the US had left Afghanistan without forming a transitional military, political and logistical arrangements, not even bringing the intra-Afghan negotiations to full fruition.

Speaking of the U.S.’s future role, Ambassador Mehmood said that the U.S. cannot be expected to leave this region, which has had a vital place for the US in terms of keeping a close watch on China, Russia, Central Asia, mineral riches in Afghanistan, and due to nuclear assets in Pakistan.

Executive Director COPAIR Mr. Khalid Latif thanked the speakers and the participants for the illuminating discussion. The event was well-attended and well-received by the audience.

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