LONDON: Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai has condemned America’s new policy on Afghanistan as a `message of war and bloodshed`.

The Afghan leader, who worked closely with US political and military officials when he was in power, said at a reception on Tuesday that more emphasis should be placed on negotiations.

In August President Trump said that he had overcome his initial reluctance to keep US troops in Afghanistan because he feared a hasty US withdrawal would leave a vacuum for terrorists to fill. He said the US had decided to fight to on and that he would not impose a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops.

The US, he added, would focus less on nation building and more on “killing terrorists”. Washington is expected to send up to 4,000 additional troops top back the Trump plan.

Whilst formulating his Afghan policy, President Trump has been ramping up pressure on Pakistan, warning that the US would no longer tolerate it offering “safe havens to extremists” _ an accusation swiftly dismissed by Pakistan.

Asked to comment on the signs that the US administration might get tougher on Pakistan, the former Afghan president said it was not the first time that the Americans have accused Pakistan for assisting, training and educating the terrorists. “We want closer relations with Pakistan and expect them to treat us like a respectable and a sovereign nation.”

In remarks in Washington at a press event held on Tuesday to quash rumours that he was considering resigning from the Trump administration, the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in fact took a softer line on Pakistan.

Tillerson said the US wanted to build “upon our relationships with India and Pakistan to stamp out terrorism and support the Afghan government in providing security for their own people”.

His remarks suggested that the issue of what line to take on Islamabad is still the subject of internal debate in Washington.

Commenting on the Pakistan army chief’s recent visit to Kabul, Mr Karzai said that he hoped the visit proves pivotal and positive for peace, adding that he does not want Afghanistan to become a battleground for the US and its flawed policies.

Published in Dawn, October 5th, 2017