US Diplomat calls for Pak-US collaboration for crisis mitigation in Afghanistan

There is a need to be engaged with Pakistan on ways to assess and deal with this enhanced threat. The prospect of violent destabilization of a country with about 210 million people and nuclear weapons is not a pretty one.

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NEW YORK, A veteran US diplomat has called on the Biden administration to engage with Pakistan on ways to assess and deal with the unfolding situation in Afghanistan, saying that the “American disaster” in the war-torn country was the result of President Joe Biden’s impatience.

Ryan Crocker, who served as ambassador to Afghanistan and later to Pakistan, wrote in The New York Times that that Biden’s “strategic impatience”, which he said Americans lack, has given a huge boost to the Taliban as well as to “militant Islam” everywhere.

In an opinion piece, Crocker said that the effect of that development would also be felt next door in Pakistan where the T.T.P. has been engaged in attacking targets inside Pakistan. However, a report, quoting highly placed sources, said that a high-powered commission, set up by Afghanistan’s Taliban, has been working to press anti-Pakistan militants to stop violence against the neighbouring country and return to their homes across the border with their families.

Taliban chief Hibatullah Akhundzada set up the three-member commission recently to look into Islamabad’s complaints that the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), is using Afghan soil to plot cross-border terrorist attacks, the sources were cited as saying.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid also told the media in Kabul that no terrorist group will be allowed to use the Afghan soil against any country.

In his article, Crocker wrote (in part):

“I recall the comment attributed to a captured Taliban fighter from a number of years ago: You Americans have the watches, but we have the time. Sadly, that view proved accurate — the Taliban outlasted us and our impatience.

“After the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan at the hands of U.S.-trained and armed mujahedeen in 1989, training that was facilitated by Pakistan, we decided we were done. We could see the Afghan civil war coming — the only thing holding the disparate Afghan groups together was a common enemy. But that was not our problem — we were leaving. On the way out, we stopped helping Pakistan in a key way: We ended security and economic assistance because of its nuclear weapons program, something we’d exempted before.

“So, Pakistan, in its own narrative, went from being the most allied of allies to the most sanctioned of adversaries. That is why Pakistan threw its support to the Taliban when they started gaining ground in the 1990s: It could end a dangerous conflict along Pakistan’s own unstable borders.

“And that is why a decade later after 9/11, Pakistan welcomed the return of the United States — and U.S. assistance. It would work with the US against Al Qaeda.

“But we soon learned that the Taliban were a sticky matter. I was ambassador to Pakistan from 2004 to 2007. I pushed Pakistani officials repeatedly on the need to deny the Taliban safe havens. The answer I got back over time went like this: “We know you. We know you don’t have patience for the long fight. We know the day will come when you just get tired and go home — it’s what you do. But we aren’t going anywhere — this is where we live. So, if you think we are going to turn the Taliban into a mortal enemy, you are completely crazy.”

“We have again validated their skepticism.

“The Washington Post notes that ‘as the Taliban swept across neighboring Afghanistan, some Pakistanis saw it as a reason to celebrate’.” Yet I doubt there are many high fives being exchanged in Islamabad today. The American disaster in Afghanistan that Mr. Biden’s impatience brought about is not a disaster just for us. It has also been a huge boost for the Taliban, whose narrative now is that the believers, clad in the armor of the one true faith, have vanquished the infidels.

“We need to be engaged with Pakistan on ways to assess and deal with this enhanced threat. The prospect of violent destabilization of a country with about 210 million people and nuclear weapons is not a pretty one. The same is true in Iran. It’s always good to see the Great Satan take a kick in the face, and it’s worth a little gloating, but the Islamic Republic and the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate almost went to war in 1998. A region is worried, and it is right to be so.”

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