The Pakistan Foreign Minister will upbraid the US for its new Afghanistan policy at the UN General Assembly next week, saying the Trump administration is following a militaristic approach that has already failed.
Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif told the Wall Street Journal that he could not understand how the American military could succeed now in Afghanistan when it had not during the “surge” under the Barack Obama administration with a force eight times as large as the one now planned.
He instead called for peace talks with the Taliban, which could be arranged if Washington worked with countries in the region that have influence over the group.
“They are pursuing a folly, a strategy that has already failed,” Asif told the American paper. “Force will not solve any problem, it has not solved problems in the past,” Asif said.
Pakistan’s cooperation is vital to the effort to stabilise neighbouring Afghanistan and extricating America from its longest war. The US and Pakistan are ostensible allies, but have long suffered strained ties.
Relations turned more confrontational after President Donald Trump accused Pakistan in August of providing a haven for terrorists and then threatening to withhold aid if there was not better cooperation.
Trump had said that a political settlement with elements of the Taliban is “perhaps” possible, but only after an effective US military campaign.
Asif subsequently cancelled a trip to the US for talks with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Islamabad also rejected a planned visit to Pakistan by the senior US official for the Pakistan-Afghanistan region, Alice Wells.
Asif toured the region, visiting US adversaries in China, Iran and Turkey, saying afterward that they agreed that a political solution was needed. Asif said he would meet at the UN his Russian counterpart to get Moscow on board with this plan.
“I think Americans should be more realistic and more pragmatic about their approach in Afghanistan,” said Asif. “They have already lost more than 40 per cent of territory to the Taliban. How do you keep on fighting with them?”