Washington: US President Barack Obama appears to be frustrated with Pakistan, which is reflected in his address to the nation from Afghanistan, an eminent American expert on South Asian issues said Wedenesday.
"The President`s frustration with Pakistan and its lack of cooperation in Afghanistan came through in his remarks. He said Pakistan should be part of the process to stabilise Afghanistan," said Lisa Curtis of The Heritage Foundation.
She was commenting after the US President delivered his remarks from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan marking the first death anniversary of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
"I have made it clear to Afghanistan`s neighbour Pakistan that it can and should be an equal partner in this process in a way that respects Pakistan’s sovereignty, interests and democratic institutions. In pursuit of a durable peace, America has no designs beyond an end to al-Qaeda safe-havens, and respect for Afghan sovereignty," Obama said.
Curtis said a major attack in Kabul a few weeks ago linked to the Pakistan-based Haqqani network is a reminder that terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan continue to threaten stability in Afghanistan.
"Pakistani military leaders must be convinced that pursuing a broad crackdown on violent Islamist groups in the country will strengthen Pakistan?s economic and political outlook and overall regional position," Curtis said.
Pakistani military leaders have so far resisted cracking down on Taliban and Haqqani network sanctuaries largely because of their failure to envision a new strategy that both protects Pakistan’s regional interests and uproots support for terrorist activities and ideology, she said.
"Islamabad`s practice of relying on violent Islamist proxies in Afghanistan (and India) has backfired badly on Pakistan and there is increasing recognition among Pakistanis that a Taliban-dominated Afghanistan would likely have a destabilizing impact on Pakistan," she said.
"US officials must build on this sentiment by convincing Pakistani leaders that unless they use their resources now to force the Taliban to compromise in Afghanistan, Pakistan will suffer from an emboldened Taliban leadership that will project its power back into Pakistan," she said.
"Moreover, Pakistan will face increasing isolation and lose credibility with the international community for continuing policies that encourage terrorism and endanger the safety of civilized nations," Curtis said.
Curtis said a Taliban victory in Afghanistan would also strengthen Islamist extremist forces in Pakistan, thus undermining civilian democracy and emboldening hard-line elements within the Pakistani security establishment, which controls the country?s expanding nuclear weapons arsenal.
"Rather than basing US strategy on long-shot talks with Taliban leadership, Washington should focus its attention and resources on building up anti-Taliban elements that share the US interest in preventing Afghanistan from serving as a safe haven for international terrorists once again," she said.