The U.S Interest in Afghanistan beyond War on Terror

President Trump’s New Year tweet builds more cynicism in Pakistan regarding US- Pak Relations

Donald Trump’s New Year tweet indicates that both the United States and Pakistan are going through a rough patch in their relationship owing to the seemingly endless Afghan war. The landlocked state of Afghanistan also known as the “Graveyard of Empires” has been crucial in determining ties between the United States and Pakistan. It is evident that the U.S Pak relations have always witnessed a positive change during phases of dictatorship in Pakistan mostly on account of the turbulent situation in Afghanistan. There is no denying the fact that the civil regimes in Pakistan for some quirk of fate find it extremely difficult to please their master the United States. Likewise the present phase of democracy which began in 2008 gradually witnessed a strained relation which now seems to be entering a real bad patch.

 It is obviously true that United States has proved to be a hard task master despite Pakistan’s immense contributions in the war on terror for years.  According to Henry Kissinger “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests.” Trump’s tweet has further ruptured the US- Pak relations moreover skepticism regarding each other’s point of view is on the rise as never before. Today policy circles in Washington have a divided opinion regarding Pakistan’s role in the U.S war on terror. One school supports the idea of fastening the blame of the seemingly endless Afghan quagmire on Pakistan. However the other group believes that U.S should continue to engage with Pakistan considering its strategic anxiety owing to the increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan. Similarly there is a divided opinion in Pakistan regarding the U.S policies and interests in the region. Considering United States continued dissatisfaction over Pakistan’s role in this prolonged fight it is believed that America’s interest in the region is beyond the war on terror.

Pakistan in the wake of terrorism has suffered an economic loss of $123 Billion besides 50,000 civilian causalities on account of this war. With an estimated 62421 fatalities between 2003 to 2017 Pakistan holds the second position among countries that have been worst effected by terrorism.

Below are some facts that support the idea that the U.S War on terror in Afghanistan is a resource war.

U.S and its NATO partners have their permanent military presence in Afghanistan on account of their military facilities setup in the vicinity of China’s Western Frontier.

 The US- Afghan security pact established as a result of Obama’s Asia Pivot has justified the establishment of nine permanent U.S bases. These U.S bases are close to the borders of Iran, China, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

One view contends that the United States is pursuing its geopolitical as well as economic agenda in Afghanistan. According to this school of thought the United States wants to maintain its presence in Afghanistan which certainly is the strategic hub in Central Asia.

Trump’s counter terrorism mandate to put an end to all terrorists groups in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan has seriously been criticized by some international observers. It is believed that idea of demolishing terrorists is a good pretext by the United States to continue its presence in Afghanistan.

It is believed that the U.S military bases in Afghanistan are protecting the narcotics trade as Afghanistan contributes to 90% of the world’s opium trade.

Afghanistan sits on vast deposits of mineral wealth such as Gold, Copper, Cobalt, iron and lithium. It is believed that Afghanistan owing to its large deposits of lithium can potentially become another Saudi Arabia.

It is obviously true that states in the international arena constantly struggle to maximize their power and protect their interest. Every nation state has the right to protect its interests therefore no alliances or friends in international politics are constant. However both the U.S and Pakistan have a shared history of war against the Soviets and later against the terrorists therefore this relationship must not end in acrimony. United States must not constantly accuse Pakistan forsaking its tremendous contributions in the war on terror. The United States must revisit its policy in Afghanistan as peace and stability in Afghanistan cannot be achieved without Pakistan’s support in the ongoing war on terror. Moreover India and Pakistan have a history of wars and mistrust therefore peace and stability in South Asia cannot be attained forsaking Pakistan’s strategic concerns in Afghanistan. Therefore the United States must cooperate with Pakistan in its war on terror for a durable peace and stability in the region.

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