Washington: The US is unlikely to achieve
much beyond resumption of logistic support from Pakistan, two former diplomats have warned.
The warning comes ahead of the crucial meeting of
Pakistan Parliament`s discussion on its relationship with the
"The hope of a common strategy in Afghanistan is
completely unrealistic," Teresita and Howard Schaffer wrote in
their latest piece on the website of the Foreign Policy
They were recently in Pakistan.
While Schaffer is a non-resident senior fellow at the
Brookings Institution; Howard teaches at the Georgetown
University`s School of Foreign Service.
Both are retired US ambassadors with long experience in
"The most frequently mentioned theme in our discussions
of the likely new look was the need for agreement on the end
game in Afghanistan.
"This end game will indeed drive US-Pakistan relations in
the short run, but the United States is likely to achieve
little beyond resumption of logistical support," they wrote in
the article which appeared yesterday.
Teresita and Howard said that the goals of the US and
Pakistan diverge in ways that are too important to sweep under
the rug; indeed, that is a major reason why a big strategic
partnership is now out of reach.
"In principle, both want a stable, governable Afghanistan
with no continuing ties to al-Qaeda. For Pakistan, however,
this remains a secondary priority. The key objective is
freezing out Indian influence in Kabul.
"Pakistanis do not believe President Karzai will be
disposed to protect their interests - or strong enough to do
so even if he wishes to," they said.
Strategic disagreement also impedes a common US-Pakistan
front on negotiations with the Taliban, they said.
Pakistanis view US-Taliban discussions with skepticism
and cynicism, both feelings now heightened by the fallout from
the Quran-burning disaster in Afghanistan and, more recently,
the shooting spree by an American soldier near Kandahar.
"The United States wants Pakistan`s cooperation in
talking to the Taliban; Pakistan wants to sit in the driver`s
seat. Even if the talks continue after their current
interruption, Pakistan will focus chiefly on maximising its
own influence in Kabul, even if that means a dominant role for
Taliban elements that have been at war with the United States.
"In short, seeking a common strategy for the Afghan end
game is likely to leave the United States feeling bruised and
Pakistan unsatisfied," the two wrote.
They said the Pak army and the government have apparently
agreed to reopen ground transport links to NATO forces in
Afghanistan, subject to a higher price tag related more
specifically to the amount of transshipment.
This would be an important contribution to a modus
vivendi on Afghanistan, though it would not prevent the
governments from working at cross-purposes on Afghanistan`s
fundamental political problems, they added.
"But the rest of the parliamentary package could add new
roadblocks, especially if it includes a demand to end drone
attacks. The involvement of parliament in this decision is a
welcome step toward shared responsibility between civilians
and the military, but comes at the price of adding an
unpredictable element to decision-making in Pakistan," they