Lahore: Pakistani academicians, journalists and members of various non-government organisations (NGO) have forwarded a letter to US President Barack Obama, urging him to change America’s strategy in Afghanistan.
According to the Daily Times, they told Obama that the cost of the Afghan war has crossed the USD 120 billion per year mark for the United States alone, which would be unsustainable in the long run. They also claimed that the situation on the ground in Afghanistan was much worse than in 2009, because the Taliban insurgency had progressed across the country.
Acknowledging Pakistan’s active support to the Taliban, the letter from the intelligentsia said Washington would be unrealistic in pursuing a military solution in Afghanistan.
They suggested that it was time to implement an alternative strategy that would allow the US to exit Afghanistan while safeguarding its legitimate security interests.
They said that the Taliban leadership has indicated its willingness to negotiate, and is more favourable for talks now than ever before.
“We’re deeply worried about the current course of the war and the lack of credible scenarios for the future. In addition, human losses are increasing. We appeal to you to use the unparalleled resources and influence to achieve that longed-for peace,” they said in the letter.
They said that the 2014 deadline to put the Afghan National Army in command of security was not realistic.
Considering the quick disappearance of the state structure at a district level, it was difficult to envision a strong army standing alone without any other state institutions around.
The Taliban, they said is a long-term part of the Afghan political landscape, and there was a need to try and negotiate with them to reach a diplomatic settlement.
They said: “We believe that mediation can help achieve a settlement, which brings peace to Afghanistan, enables the Taliban to become a responsible actor in the Afghan political order, ensures that Afghanistan cannot be used as a base for international terrorism, helps stabilize the region, and provides the basis of an enduring relationship between Afghanistan and the international community.”
The letter added: “All the political and diplomatic ingenuity that the US can muster will be required to achieve this positive outcome.”
New Delhi: BJP-led NDA MPs from both Houses of Parliament on Monday held a protest against the government's refusal to accept their demand for a JPC probe in the 2-G spectrum allocation scam.
NDA Working Chairman L K Advani, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, her counterpart in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, NDA Convenor and JD(U) President Sharad Yadav, and MPs from Shiv Sena and Shiromani Akali Dal held a demonstration in front of Mahatma Gandhi's statue in Parliament House complex.
Speaking to reporters after staging the protest, Swaraj said, "The government is responsible for the logjam. It is because of government's adamance that this situation prevails in Parliament."
She wondered why government was shying away when there is a precedence of four JPCs, two of which were formed by the Congress and two by the NDA governments.
The opposition maintained that government's refusal to JPC had led it to hold this symbolic dharna.
"We are taking this fight against corruption to the people. We will be hitting the roads soon," Swaraj said.
With the winter session of Parliament coming to a close on Monday, NDA plans to hold rallies across the country against corruption.
First Published: Monday, December 13, 2010, 14:18