NEW YORK: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has stressed the need for a political settlement in Afghanistan, saying that like previous US plans President Donald Trump’s new strategy for America’s longest-running war in that country will also fail.

“From day one we have been saying very clearly the military strategy in Afghanistan has not worked and it will not work,” Mr Abbasi said in an interview with Bloomberg News, an international news agency based in New York.

There has to be a “political settlement,” he said in the interview that took place in Karachi on Saturday night. “That’s the bottom line,” the prime minister added.

Mr Abbasi said that while his government supported the fight against terrorists it would not let the war in Afghanistan spill into Pakistan.

Political settlement should be sought to restore peace in Afghanistan, says PM

The war has cost the US about $714 billion and several thousand lives.

“We do not intend to allow anybody to fight Afghanistan’s battle on Pakistan’s soil,” Mr Abbasi said.

“Whatever has to happen in Afghanistan should be happening in Afghanistan,” he said. “Pakistan doesn’t harbour terrorists.”

Mr Abbasi said Pakistan was willing to work with all countries, including India, from which Mr Trump sought help to develop Afghanistan’s economy, to achieve regional stability.

Still, he added, the Afghan government should be “owning” the issue and dealing with the Taliban.

“If they require our support, our support is available,” he said. “Our support is unconditional as far as terrorism is concerned.”

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Sunday said the new strategy was intended to pressure the Taliban into negotiating with the Afghan government by “sending a message to the Taliban that we are not going anywhere”.

“I think the president’s been clear that this is a dramatic shift in terms of the military strategy,” Mr Tillerson said on the Fox News Sunday programme. He said the US moves would be “dictated by conditions on the ground, informed by battlefield commanders”.

“The president was clear that he’s not setting any arbitrary timelines,” Mr Tillerson said. “Our patience is not unlimited.”

Published in Dawn, August 28th, 2017

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