Pak plan of trumping India in Afghanistan `unwise’

An editorial said that Pakistan`s interest in having more influence than India in Afghanistan should not trump greater interests of the world.

Islamabad: An editorial in a Pakistan daily has said that the country`s narrow interest in having more influence than India in Afghanistan should not trump the greater interests of the world.

For the US, thwarting the Haqqani Network is vital to its plans for withdrawing from Afghanistan by 2014, it said. The only way the US can leave the country without having to admit defeat is if violence in Afghanistan is significantly reduced. Pakistan, however, thinks that by keeping the Haqqani Network operational, it can both counteract Indian influence in Afghanistan and get a seat in the post-US Afghan government that it expects to be dominated by the Taliban, it added.

According to the editorial, Pakistan needs to realise how unwise this plan is. It is essentially a rerun of the Afghan policy of the 1980s and 1990s, when the same flawed logic brought the country lots of guns, drugs and refugees but little security while destroying the nation of Afghanistan.

The editorial said that while the country is fighting the Pakistani Taliban and sacrificing a tremendous amount of blood in doing so, it is ignoring the Haqqani Network, which primarily carries out attacks in Afghanistan.

It added that after years of diplomatic inquiries and suggestions that Pakistan might want to consider the Haqqani Network as a threat as well, the US has finally reacted harshly in the form of a speech given by Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, who said the US is "reaching the limits of our patience" with Pakistan and urged it to deny the Haqqani Network a safe haven in North Waziristan.

Pakistan certainly has a case when it tells the US that it does not have enough troops at its disposal to fight the Haqqani Network in what would surely be a long and bloody battle in North Waziristan, it said. But the problem is that the military is perceived by many as being hand-in-glove with the Haqqani Network, through its intelligence agencies, it added.

The end result is that Pakistan is not only making it harder for peace to take hold in Afghanistan, but it is also harming Pakistan`s own interests because the rest of the world does not believe Pakistan when it says it is innocent of any interference, it said.