Civil-military leaders discuss implications of Obama’s announcement, Pakistan’s role as a power-broker in Afghanistan
Top civil and military leaders on Friday pored over, revised and then finalised the agenda of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s upcoming visit to Washington a day after US President Barack Obama announced a delay in the drawdown of coalition troops from Afghanistan.
The official handout issued from the PM House said the prime minister chaired a high-level meeting to review internal security. However, sources said, PM Nawaz’s three-day visit to the US – starting from October 20 – was the main agenda of the meeting.
The meeting was prompted by Obama’s dramatic announcement that US forces will remain in Afghanistan at their current levels throughout much of 2016 – a sharp U-turn from the US leader’s stated position on the issue.
The meeting was attended by Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Adviser to the PM on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Tariq Fatemi, Inter-Services Public Relations director general Lt-Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa and other senior officials.
Read: Nawaz-Obama meeting agenda finalised
According to informed sources, the civil and military leaders discussed implications of President Obama’s announcement days before the PM’s scheduled visit to Washington and noted that following the announcement Pakistan’s leverage in playing a role in the Afghan endgame had appreciably diminished.
The civil-military leadership also finalised the prime minister’s agenda for the visit. It was decided that the PM will discuss with the US authorities the role of Afghan government in the collapse of talks with the Afghan Taliban, the emerging alliances and their impact on the region, as well as the need for provision to Pakistan of Coalition Support Fund, defence equipment and civil nuclear technology.
Sources said in the first place the PM will apprise the US authorities about Pakistan’s sincere efforts to kick-start Afghan reconciliation. They said Pakistan’s visiting delegation is likely to present Kabul in a negative light particularly with reference to their role in the Afghan reconciliation process.
Islamabad believes that Kabul deliberately leaked news of the death of the Afghan Taliban’s longtime supreme leader Mullah Omar at the behest of India to derail the fledgling peace negotiations between Kabul and the Afghan Taliban.
The prime minister will also discuss with the US administration the new regional alliances.
The sources said the civil and military leaders have devised a comprehensive presentation on the regional stability with particular reference to the roles of China and India.
Talks on the Coalition Support Fund will be led by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. Pakistan’s demand for defence and military equipment and a civil nuclear deal would also be presented comprehensively.
Sources said the prospects of Pakistan’s growing role as a power-broker in Afghanistan have received a setback after the US decision to prolong its stay.
Read: ’PM to brief Obama on Pakistan’s efforts to resume talks between Kabul, Taliban’
They said while the new Afghan Taliban leadership had intensified attacks on the western-backed Afghan government and refused to listen to the Pakistani authorities, the goodwill created between the two countries during the President Ashraf Ghani’s earlier days in office had also dissipated.
Sources said in the present scenario, President Obama was likely to make ‘do more’ demands instead of listening to Pakistan’s demands and apprehensions. The sources said that General Raheel Sharif also informed the premier about his recent Turkey visit.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 17th, 2015.