Tillerson’s visit

The policy makers have workout their agenda for talks with the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who is arriving in Islamabad on his maiden visit to enlist Pakistan’s help for American efforts to reach a peaceful solution in Afghanistan. Tillerson visit comes amid a surge in violence in Afghanistan where the US led coalition is battling to quell an increasing bloody insurgency since the ouster of Taliban in 2001. The US Secretary of State would be told that only Pakistani security forces will conduct counter terrorism operation. US concept of joint operation is not acceptable. It came to light when Foreign Minister, Khwaja Asif, in his recent tour of US, said in an interview that Pakistan has offered a joint operation against terrorism on its soil. However, he later stated that he never said Pakistan would allow foreign boots on ground.

Pakistani officials have prioritized the issues to be taken up with the US Secretary of State, which include the recent strain in Pak-US ties, President Trump new Afghan strategy and its reservations on India’s role in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s commitment to the political solution of Afghan conflict is loud and clear. It earnestly joined the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) comprising Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the United States in January, 2016. The Quartet held a number of meetings which raised hopes for the restoration of peace and stability in Afghanistan, but the process hit a dead-end in May 2016 after the killing of Taliban Chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor in a US drone strike in Baluchistan. This incident was construed by political analysts a deliberate attempt to sabotage the dialogue process.

After a lapse of a year and a half, the QCG rendezvous in Muscat on October 16. Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua attended this session. Likewise, Pakistan attended the 12 party Moscow peace conferences in May. It also joined hands with Russia and China to pursue a Regional Peace initiative, which the defense and political analysts believe to be the last hope for the peaceful solution of Afghan War. But the US purposely did not put its weight behind the Regional Peace Initiative on Afghanistan.

The war in Afghanistan is issue of global concern. The entry of Daesh in the war theater has rang alarm bells in all countries of this region.. This severely complicates the conflict resolution because the already civil international war has now taken a much larger and potentially global proportion. It is a bitter fact that the sole superpower, the United States has not succeeded to subdue Taliban and win the war in Afghanistan. More than 40 percent area of Afghanistan is under the control of Taliban. The excessive use of sophisticated and mighty military power for the last 16 years has not brought victory for the US and Afghan forces on the battlefield. The writ of the Afghan government has eroded even in the Afghanistan capital Kabul. Taliban status of being a party to conflict must be accepted. They should be brought to the negotiation table if the United Stares really want the resolution of Afghan conflict.  Pakistan’s efforts and sacrifices for counter terrorism must be acknowledged and idea of joint operation must not be opted, keeping in view the universal truth of Pakistan being a sovereign country and no compromise should be made.