Washington: Noting that US and Pakistan have
opposing goals for Afghanistan, an eminent American expert on
South Asia has asked President Barack Obama to look beyond
Islamabad and towards other like-minded partners in the region
to stem terrorism and help stabilise the war-torn nation.
"Unless Pakistan demonstrates a willingness to
actively squeeze Taliban insurgents on its soil and use its
leverage to bring them to compromise with the US and Afghan
authorities, the US should consider alternative policy options
to stem terrorism in the region," Lisa Curtis of the Heritage
In her latest article, Curtis said the US and NATO
partners can look beyond Pakistan and toward other like-minded
partners in the region to help stabilise Afghanistan.
"While it is in America`s interest to encourage
stability in Pakistan, it is also vital to US national
security that international terrorists are rooted out of both
Afghanistan and Pakistan," she said.
"Washington and Islamabad have opposing goals for
Afghanistan that can no longer be brushed under the carpet,"
Curtis said adding that Pakistani officials often claim to
their US counterparts that they lack capacity to take on
terrorist sanctuaries within their borders, but these claims
are questionable and need to be tested.
"At the least, the US should expect Pakistani authorities
to punish individuals involved in supporting terrorism or
harboring Osama bin Laden," she wrote.
The Obama Administration, she said, has sought to
include Pakistan in its efforts to reconcile with the Taliban,
even though Pakistan continues to serve as a sanctuary for
Taliban and Haqqani network militants fighting coalition
forces in Afghanistan.
"Islamabad views the sanctuaries as a bargaining
chip to force its way into the negotiations process.
Washington needs to make clear that Islamabad`s role
in the talks depends on its willingness to use its leverage
with Taliban insurgents to bring them to compromise," she
Curtis said the US should also communicate that
while it is open to engaging the Taliban, it is not desperate
to do so and has other options it can pursue.
"Political reconciliation is desirable but only if it
contributes to the goal of ensuring that Afghanistan never
again serves as a safe haven for global terrorists," she said.
She said Pakistani intelligence officials understand
better than anyone how to break apart the
Taliban, Haqqani, al Qaeda nexus.
"Pakistani security officials have had close
relationships with members of these groups for three decades
and likely have a well-developed understanding of the dynamics
among the organisations and the strengths and weaknesses of
each of the groups` leaders," she said.
"But if Pakistan is unwilling to use its leverage to
help bring genuine peace to Afghanistan, there are other
policies aside from pursuing reconciliation with the
Taliban that the US can pursue.
"Even as the US is drawing down combat forces, it can
continue to provide diplomatic, financial, and military
support to allies in the region that oppose the Taliban,"