How should Pakistan respond to Obama’s Afghanistan plan?

How should Pakistan respond to Obama’s Afghanistan plan? invites its readers to debate current affairs in this forum.

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?


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183 Responses to “How should Pakistan respond to Obama’s Afghanistan plan?”

  1. Naseer says:

    I think pakistan should fight this war against terrorism without foreign help. The “SOLUTION IS RESOLUTION OF ISSUE OF KASHMIR”. I think by closing eyes on root causes of global problem of terrorism we cannnot win the “war on terrorism”. It is imperative that pakistan take its destiny on its on hand and “solve” the Kashmir problem once and for all and take “state terrorism” seriously as soon as possible.

  2. ND Q says:

    I think pakistan should fight this war against terrorism without foreign help. The “SOLUTION IS RESOLUTION OF ISSUE OF KASHMIR”. I think by closing eyes on root causes of global problem of terrorism we cannnot win the “war on terrorism”. It is imperative that pakistan take its destiny on its on hand and “solve” the Kashmir problem as soon as possible.

  3. Suresh says:

    Change in mindset of pakistani politicians and generals is the foremost requirement.
    They can’t keep on pushing the people in to troubles and poverty by playing games among them for power!!!!!
    Respect the verdict of the people and respect democracy with transparency at all levels will stabilise the country!!!!
    Punish the criminals as per law…. Don’t mess/mix law with religion!!!!

  4. kiran mustoor siva says:

    Pakistan has to first accept that it had supported terrorism in the past and is paying the price for it. As you sow so you reap. Stop supporting the terrorists and severe the links between Terrorist and ISI.

    This has to be taken up on a war footing basis and it may take years to clean up the mess.

  5. mehtab says:

    We took a pragmatic step when we joined US war on terror and are paying the price for that till now. We should now take some principled stand.

    US has no right to shape the future of Afghan people and continue to keep its forces here and if we cannot resist it, at least we should not be a party to it.

    Pakistan should stop all interference in Afghanistan internal matters be that in form of assistance to US / Nato or in form of support to Taliban (as is being alleged). The border must be sealed to the maximum possible extent (except for authorized travel on both sides) and US/Nato and of-course Taliban be told in clear terms to keep their activities limited to the other part of the border.

    Pakistan should declare its neutrality and friendship to the Afghan people and should continue with trade and humanitarian aid to them.

  6. Satori Sarkar says:

    In answer ot the very specific questions posed by the Editor :

    1 – Embrace it wholeheartedly.
    2 – The two are the same, I can’t see how there is a conflict of interests.
    3 – Yes. Afghanistan is only good for opium growing,and being a conduct for pipelines. In common, is large groups of uneducated, unemployed, disenfranchised, illiterate and unskilled people. Save the people and you will save the country.
    Thank you.

  7. Satori Sarkar says:

    In answer to the very specific questions posed by the Editor :

    1 – Embrace it wholeheartedly.
    2 – The two are the same, I can’t see how there is a conflict of interests.
    3 – Yes. Afghanistan is only good for opium growing,and being a conduit for pipelines.

  8. Deepak Ghanvatkar says:

    Pakistan has always bowed to two pressures 1) American interest
    2) Strong Fundamentalist views

    Now when the two pressures are acting against one another the different views can only come or policy can be defined if first What is Pakistant and what are Pakistani interest. Pakistan cannot be defined on anti-India sentiment.

    Please note you cannot define your goal to burn a neighbour’s house because the chance is that the fire may come back to your house.

  9. A Hindustani says:

    USA will be there today for their interest, and may not be tomorrow.

    Questions that anyone should ask –

    What does every Pakistani want?
    Is it in the interest of every Pakistani?
    Does it matter who is helping to get there?
    What lense you would use to read it? Political, economical, peace, safety, progress?
    Is Pakistan establishment believes that ‘helping’ Taliban will allow peace and prosperity (i.e. being enemy of neighbours) will help Pakistan?

    Why it never appears that Pakistan govt is for peace and prosperity? It is just words which are used for political purpose.

    You have to ask what you want for next generation and future generations?

    What do they want to learn and how they want to live?

    What is progress and peace for Pakistan?

    It is like, for a problem (say against terrorism), a general would want to send army, a saint would want to work with message, a politician would like to negotiate, an academic person would like to analyze.

    If it it same, then do Pakistanis believe that they could gain only at loss of neighbours?

    No one can help someone but one self.

    As you sow so shall you reap.

    Be it peace, progress, or something else.

  10. anil says:

    no need to respond Obama at ask me why??

    here are the reasons:

    1>Pakistan is not a position to help other,instead it will make the situation dirty which will support has very worse financial situation and begging for even some million dollars.

    2>again who is going to support us whether ISI or their military or their government or their poor people.clearly we can find no power center in Pakistan.

    instead they should beg USA,UK,CHINA or IMF for some aid that will be help for their economy. respect your chief justice and keep ur military out of ur political matter.i don’t hesitate to say that i am Indian and i like Pakistani people very much. we share the common border and same blood flows through us.don’t you think that USA,UK,CHINA are using you like a toy.don’t u think that ur politicians are for power only though it is same for us also.i would be happy if Pakistan comes to rest with a vibrant democratic regime and prosperous country.i think most of my Pakistani friends would support me and my comments.

  11. Dr.A.K.Kala says:

    To get out of the morass,which is getting stickier and deeper by the day,Pakistan urgently needs to do following:-
    1.Cure itself of its India fixation, which has done more harm to Pakistan than anything else.India will not harm Pakistan unless troubled.The required U turn on both overt and covert state policy towards India would require actual(not cosmetic) reigning in of Lashkar e taiba and Jaish e Mohammed.This is easier said than done because,ISI and the army who will be required to do it will resist it with all their effort. An untroubled India will not be jingoistic and will be perceived as non-threatening in eyes of Pakistani people The army would not like it because it would then stand to lose the image of Pakistan’s saviour against the Indian demon.Kashmir can be taken up when atmosepherics are better again.
    2. Government should take up courage in both hands and allow NATO forces selective access to valued targets in Pakistan.We normally donot allow strangers into our houses but when the house is on fire,we donot fight fire-fighters in the name of our sovereign right to our houses.This should be allowed on the specific condition that civilian deaths in such strikes will decrease and not increase.
    3.Time is ripe to get Iran and China involved.Iran has helped cool down Afganistan before.Iran will do to boost its international image and China will be too ready to help because it is worried sick about terrorism spreading to Sinkiang.India should limit itself to reconstruction and medical work in Afganistan.
    4.Spend the billions coming from America on education.Literacy particularly female literacy is a force multiplier.
    5.You have a great civil society.It should be officially encouraged to engage with the mullahs.
    6.Build many more Sufi shrines.

  12. Mohsin Naqvi says:

    The main problem, which Pakistan is facing now, is that Pakistan hasn’t defined its national interest in true sense. What is being articulated in the press or statements, as national interest, are the interest of few segments of Pakistan society. Before defining the national interest, each Pakistani should be aware of the fact that Pakistan is standing on the spot, wherein it has to wage a war, whether against the Taliban like extremist or against the so called civilized world. There is no other way to look around. Facing any of the said war is not an easy task. One war is to fight within the nation and other against the powerful military of the world. Furthermore, resources of ours do not allow having small skirmishes rather to have a long bloody war. But we have to opt one of it. Before exercising the option, we have to take into account the following points:

    • Based on the news items, it is transpired that majority of deaths were the result of extremist attacks on innocent Pakistani nationals by the fanatics. Drone attacks though responsible for many deaths but still far behind the total inflicted by the extremist element.

    • The extremist are able to strike at the heart of cities without any regard of civilian causalities. They have succeeded to kill our beloved leader Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, brave soldiers and innocent civilians. On the other hand drone attacks are only limited to tribal areas and the victims of drone attacks includes sizeable foreigners, who are living in Pakistan without any legal permission.

    • Extremist are enemy within and USA is a sole world power, on which we are dependent economically as well as militarily.

    • USA though has used us in the past but she gave us the usage fee, while Taliban were in power they are totally dependent on Pakistan’s economy rather burden on Pak economy.

    • We can import new technology from USA, send our children to acquire knowledge while studying their but from Taliban’s Afghanistan we can only import extremist and send our children to Afghanistan to acquire knowledge of transforming themselves as a suicide bomber.

    Above comparison, however, do not constitute support to drone attacks on the Pakistani territory, rather these are condemnable acts. But as a realist I acknowledge the fact that we neither can stop these attacks militarily due to incapability and nor politically, till our tribal areas providing the sanctuary to the extremist elements.

    In view of the above “childish” argument (I called childish because every child can understand what should be our policy) I request to Pakistani nation to devise a new policy based on the following


  13. nandakumar says:

    i think it is critical for pakistanis to understand that the real powers that be in pakistan (the army and the isi) are more interested in their power games than in the welfare of the citizens of the country. so they are still actively abetting the taliban which is gaining more and more power by the day. and neither is the taliban interested in the welfare of the populace – it just blasted a bomb in a mosque today which left so many people dead. if pakistanis do not force their army to act against the taliban, the day is not far off when the taliban’s boot is on the head of the average pakistani – then we will not even be able to comment on such articles and web sites. and when the taliban gets out of hand (as it definitely will with its fanaticism) the powers of the world will attack pakistan and numerous innocent pakistanis will get caught in the crossfire.

  14. Fahad Abbasi says:

    If Obama administration implements the new policy in Afghanistan without taking confidence the govt of pakistan than it will be useless for Washington to get desired reult.
    Firstly, drones attacks must be stopped. Secondly, Washington should trust on Islamabad. Thirdly,if America wants to stablize the region Then there is a great need of dialogues with Taliban forces because they have ruled on Kabul and still has powers in each corner of Afghanistan. In the coming election of Afghanistan, Karzai should be replaced.
    What should Pakistan do in this situation?
    i think, now it is also the right time for Pakistan to change its policies as Obama says we want change. Now Pakistan should take some hard steps to stabilize the region.The key of peace is in Pakistan hand and Obama administration must know this reality and washigton should try to facilitate us in every field of life because after 9-11, we have lost our lives, honour, political system and domestistic stability, only to show that we are front ally of America. we got nothing.

  15. Dr. Asad Sadick says:

    I have read the above comments and come to the conclusion that we are all living in a fools paradise. As long as the lords of Afghanistan and NWFP including our and Afghan top power holders have a stake in the drug money, nothing can and will change.

  16. Obama’s administration as well as all the true scholars, intellectuals, historians and academics of the world are very well aware of the fact and the ground realities that sooner or later, all occupying forces have to leave both Afghanistan and Iraq. Nevertheless, for the current US administration its a great strategical shift from the old hawkish and fatal policy of George Bush and Dick Cheney, which was based on the failed and maniac Bush doctrine of unilateralism , might is right and preemptive strike.

    As far as the current administration in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is concerned, how can it ignore the centuries old religious, ethnic, cultural, family, historical and tribal relations and connections with the brotherly people of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan including the Talibans – an integral entity of the brave people of Afghanistan?

    It is the high time and the right time for President Obama and his team to know, understand and realize that just like the problems in Mexico inadvertently spill over into the US, similarly, all happenings in Afghanistan also affect all of its neighbors including China, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and the Islamic Republics of Iran and Pakistan.

    What the government of President Zardari and Prime Minister Gillani has to do is to keep in mind its national interest as well as the aspirations and expectations of the great Afghan people in general and the dedicated ethnic Pashtoon population in particular (which forms about sixty percent of the total population in Afghanistan) before crafting any type of strategy to resolve the lingering issues over there, with or without the help and intervention of foreign powers including the United States of America.

    Of course, the problems of Afghanistan will affect all its neighbors directly or indirectly, implicitly or explicitly, knowingly or unknowingly and the land of the pure is no exception to it. All foreign occupiers have to leave one day but the neighbors have to live together for good. The sooner we understand this simple but centuries old universal law, the better.

    At the same time, it is surprising as well as amusing to know that the movers and shakers in Washington, DC including senator Kerry of Massachusetts, are endeavoring to involve India which has no common borders with Afghanistan, into its current and future state of affairs. This might prove to be disastrous for the world community because it might set a bad precedent and could open inevitable avenues of foreign intervention in the global world of today, for many more generations to come.

  17. zia says:

    stop supporting militants ,close the terror camps all over the country including kashmir,increase role of civilian govt in pakistan,reorganise ISI,and most importantly try to have your own foreign policy instead of depending on china and US.

  18. Khadim Ali says:

    The biggest allegation against Pakistan is that militants are infiltrating through Pakistan border into Afghanistan.And that it is solely and entirely Pakistan’s responsibility to stop this from happen, as if Afghans and foreign troops have no duty to guard their side of the border.

    The infiltration is quoted as the reason for the all failures of foreign troops in Afghanistan. It is suggested that everything will be hunky dory in Afghanistan if infiltration stops. If we accept all this as true then the solution is very simple and easy. All the foreign troops in Afghanistan should be moved and deployed on Pak-Afghan border with only one goal of stopping anybody illegally entering into Afghanistan. I guess with all their training, technology and weaponry this should be a simple and straight forward task.Since there is no other source of violence in Afghanistan, the rest of Afghans should be able to start building their country again.

    But I don’t think this is the case in Afghanistan. Pakistan is mere a scapegoat in the big picture.

  19. Khalid says:

    Fully agree with Asim above. Why can’t Governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan come up with a plan as to how the borders can be controlled between the 2 countries. I am sure with the financial help of USA, both countries will benefit as soon as the free crossings are controlled. I remember, Mr. Karzai opposed the idea when Musharraf suggested it and wonder why!!!.

  20. Pakistani army is sufficiently strong to handle the terrorists and with America’s help, it should be a child’s play. But as of now it seems to be a tough job. So the natural question is how it has become tough? The answer lies in Pakistan’s obsession with the old thinking that India is the enemy no. one. I must hasten to add that it is not so with the educated class and the civilian govt. of Pakistan. But it is there amongst some sections of army & ISI. Army and ISI are not friendly with Al-Qaida, but it is likely that they are friendly with other militant outfits and these outfits in turn are friendly with Al-Qaida. This mix up has created a big mess. This triangle needs to be handled with extreme caution as otherwise it may backfire. It will take time and Pakistan must be given that time and gradually work in the direction of closing down ISI, which could be replaced by a new organization with a new policy and philosophy. The leadership for this has to come from civilian government with tacit support from the army chief and active support from the US, but from behind the scene.

    Another angle is India’s role. Those in the corridors of power, who still think that India is the enemy no 1, needs to be taken into confidence; after all it is a mind game and for this India has to play a role. What I mean is that India’s claims that it has no ill will towards Pakistan needs to be proved on the ground for disarming the doubters. And for this, involvement of Iran & China could be of great help.

  21. Gunga Din says:

    Pakistan would be well served by disbanding ISI completely, just like Bangla Desh which has disbanded its BDR. The evil is far deeply ingrained into this organization. No band-aiding will do now.

  22. Dr Kadar Khan FRCS. FACS says:

    We are in big trouble in the eyes of the world, not in our own because we are still in denial. The Mumbai and Lahore attacks increasingly seem as if they were originated, planned in Pakistan with tacit support from our security apparatus which is also helping the Taliban. We seem to concentrate too much on the Indian threat which simply does not exist. The Kashmir issue should be resolved by dialogue and not by proxy war which we will never win. The Indian influence in Afghanistan is historical and we shouldn’t oppose it as the new Afghanistan may actually benefit from Indian democratic values and institutions and not that of a failed state. If it is true that we are losing more soldiers in our own land fighting our own people rather than our ‘hostile’ neighbour, what more proof do we want of our failed foreign policies dictated by the military and the ISI. It is high time that both be made accountable to the democratically elected Government.

  23. Adeel says:

    I am pakistani born and raised in western Europe – Scandinavia. I so want Pakistan to succeed, but I can’t help getting embarassed by being pakistani. Our lawyers go around with a stick and our politicians are corrupt. Not even a local problem can you pakistanis fix without the involvement of your master USA. An atomic power that can’t protect its citizens from drone attacks from foreign countries – I am so embarrased by this once great nation Pakistan.

  24. dharmveer says:

    The unrest in Afghanistan is a one of the very complicated issues. At first we need to delink the terrorism & Islam otherwise it will lead more youths towards terroism.
    whatever the US military & ISAF is doing in Afghanistan may not lead the region towards peace. The civilian casualities on both side of durand line hurts the sovereignity of the nation & sentiments of people.Here is the point on which mullahs may instigate the youth to do terrorist acts. For promoting peace in the region strong democratic government is the need of the hour.

  25. Tahir Razvi says:

    Pakistan is a victim of US policies, US wants to involve India and Iran which is against the Pakistan’s interest, both these countries are involve in anti Pakistan policy, the best thing is to send all the Afghans back without wasting time, seal the border with Afghanistan and make a proper border with Afghanistan instead of Durand line. Lets stay away from India and Afghanistan and clean our own house. on Facebook on Facebook