by Brig Arun Bajpai (Retd)

Yes, there is no doubt that after sudden and unilateral announcement by American President Donald Trump recently that he wants to withdraw American troops from Syria, numbering 2000, and reduce his troops deployment in Afghanistan by 50%, from their current strength of 14700, the importance of Pakistan in Afghan -Pakistan region has increased, because for this to happen Pakistan then will become main facilitator. Fact that American special representative for this, Jalami Khaliljad, though he visited so many other countries but did not visit India for last three months, because he did not want to annoy Pakistan, is case in point. He has come to visit India only now. Pakistan does not want any role of India in Afghanistan.

Just the other day American President Trump had mocked India by saying that India is building a library in Afghanistan when nobody reads anything in Afghanistan. He also said that what help India is giving to Afghanistan, US spends that much in Afghanistan in just five hours. It is good that India made it clear to him that India is not building library in Afghanistan but their Parliament building, dams to help Agriculture sector and infrastructure as desired by Afghan Government, amounting to three billion dollars’ worth of aid, which is not a small sum of money. India has also provided Afghan Government, attack helicopters. It is also providing it more of them. India is also training large numbers of Afghan security forces and equipping them. People of Afghanistan have highly appreciated Indian help and we enjoy very good relations with Afghanistan.

In his ranting, American President Trump went ahead to blame his own American Generals that they did not provide victory to America over Taliban, despite 18 years of War against them. This fault is not of American Generals but the politicians of America, including their Presidents, who did not allow American troops to deal with Pakistan the way they wanted. In 2001 when US launched war on Taliban, who had been sheltering Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind who killed 3000 Americans in jihadi attack on New York, Pakistan accommodated all Afghan Taliban bigwigs in the safe houses provided by its ISI in Quetta the capital of their Baluchistan province.

Surely, the American intelligence Agency CIA, which is considered best in the world, would have known these houses. Then why no action was taken against them? Similarly, it was Pakistan which was sponsoring Taliban and its off shoot Haqqani Network from the money it got by growing Marijuana in Afghanistan, why this was not curbed? President Trump keeps on lamenting that Pakistan took 33 billion dollars from America to fight the jihadis but fought no body except those jihadi Tanzeems who were inimical to Pakistan itself, so why America allowed itself to be duped? Similarly, it was in 2011, when American themselves found out that Osama Bin laden, whom America was searching across the globe, has actually been hidden by Pakistan in their military garrison town of Abbottabad. US launched a raid and killed him but gave no punishment to Pakistan Why? May be Trump Sahib is thinking like other US Presidents before him that Pakistan will finally be instrumental in bringing Taliban to negotiating table where US will strike a deal with Taliban. Hope Trump Sahib understands that Pakistan can any day twist Taliban, Taliban does not stand a chance without Pakistan. So, if Taliban is insisting that US should withdraw all foreign forces from Afghanistan, before any talks, then this is basically Pakistani demand. If US really wants to solve Afghan problem then it has to tighten Pakistani screws. Make it clear to Pakistan that either they get Taliban on negotiating table or face consequences. The only language Pakistan understands is what American Assistant Secretary of state had told Pakistan in 2001 that either you are with us or not with us. If "You" are not with us then America will bomb "You" to the stone age.

As for India is concerned, Afghanistan is very close friend of India. We just can not leave Afghanistan to its fate. India must go all out to train and provide arms to Afghan security forces come what may. If necessary, let us buy arms from world market to equip Afghan forces. Let us prevail on America and like-minded European countries to provide arms and money to Afghan government. We must remember that Afghan people will never allow Russian and Pakistani forces on their soil. We must never put our boots in Afghanistan. Short of it let us do everything to help Afghanistan. We may try to reactivate Northern Alliance composed of Uzbek and Hazara people forming 48% of Afghan population in the North to deal with Taliban. For this we can take help from Iran. Under no circumstances we should allow Taliban to get their control of Afghanistan. This is exactly what Pakistan wants.

Brig Arun Bajpai (Retd) is a distinguished Defence and Strategic Analyst. Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of IDN. IDN does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same