`Afghan withdrawal would raise questions on US ability`

Henry Kissinger asserts that Afghan strategy needs to be modified in 4 ways.

Washington: Withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan at this point of time would raise questions about America`s ability to execute its proclaimed goals, former secretary of state Henry Kissinger has said.

"America needs a strategy, not an alibi. We have a basic national interest to prevent jihadist from gaining additional momentum, which it will surely do if it can claim to have defeated the US and its allies after overcoming the Soviet Union," he wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post.

"A precipitate withdrawal would weaken governments in many countries with significant Islamic minorities. It would be seen in India as an abdication of the US’ role in stabilising the Middle East and South Asia and spur radical drift in Pakistan," he said.

"It would, almost everywhere, raise questions about America`s ability to define or execute its proclaimed goals. Iran building its nuclear capacity would assess its new opportunities as the US withdraws from Iraq and Afghanistan and is unable to break the diplomatic stalemate over Iran`s nuclear programme. But an obtrusive presence would, in time, isolate us in Afghanistan as well as internationally," he wrote.

Asserting that Afghan strategy needs to be modified in four ways, he said the military effort should be conducted substantially on a provincial basis rather than in pursuit of a Western-style central government.

The time scale for a political effort exceeds by a wide margin that available for military operations. We need a regional diplomatic framework for the next stage of Afghan strategy, whatever the military outcome, he said.

Artificial deadlines should be abandoned, said Kissinger, who was the Secretary of State from 1973 to 77. Kissinger said a regional diplomacy is desirable because US interests coincide substantially with those of many of the regional powers.

All of them, from a strategic perspective, are more threatened than is the United States by an Afghanistan hospitable to terrorism.

China in Sinkiang, Russia in its southern regions, India with respect to its Muslim minority of 160 million, Pakistan as to its political structure, and the smaller states in the region would face a major threat from an Afghanistan encouraging, or even tolerating, centres of terrorism, he said.

"Regional diplomacy becomes all the more necessary to forestall a neocolonial struggle if reports about the prevalence of natural resources in Afghanistan prove accurate," he said.

Kissinger said a regional diplomacy should seek to establish a framework to insulate Afghanistan from the storms raging around it rather than allow the country to serve as their epicentre.

t would also try to build Afghanistan into a regional development plan, perhaps encouraged by the Afghan economy`s reported growth rate of 15 percent last year, he wrote.


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