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On Friday, US President Barack Obama unveiled a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan. This time, the US is planning on having a way out. The strategy relies on more US forces on the ground, an expansion of Kabul’s security forces, cooperation with ‘reconcilable‘ insurgents in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and a significant boost in civilian aid on both sides of the Durand Line (Pakistan will receive US$ 1.5 billion annually over five years). There is also a push toward a regional approach to the conflict in Afghanistan. Senator John Kerry, for example, is advocating for the involvement of China, Iran, and India. For his part, President Obama also hopes to involve the Gulf States and Russia.
As the beneficiary of increased US aid, Pakistan is expected to facilitate the new US strategy on Afghanistan. But the country finds itself in a tricky position: even while Pakistani intelligence officials help the US identify terrorist targets for Predator attacks, US government officials are accusing the ISI of supporting the Taliban.
What should Pakistan do with regards to the new strategy in Afghanistan? How can the government balance cooperation with the US and other regional partners in the war against terror while protecting and prioritizing Pakistan’s interests? Are Afghanistan’s problems Pakistan’s problems too?