Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, calling for talks with the Taliban to bring peace to Afghanistan, on Sunday said the US administration’s ‘militaristic approach’ in the war-torn country represented a failed policy.

Asif, who is heading to New York to participate in the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session, told The Wall Street Journal newspaper in Islamabad that he could not understand how the American military could succeed now in Afghanistan when it had not during the ‘surge’ under the Obama administration with a force eight times as large as the one now planned.

The foreign minister instead called for peace talks with the Taliban which, he said, could be arranged if Washington worked with the countries in the region that have influence over the Taliban militant group.

“They are pursuing a folly, a strategy that has already failed,” the foreign minister said, adding, “Force will not solve any problem, it has not solved problems in the past.”

Asif said he would tell UN members that “peace should return to this area and force is not the solution”.

Asif said he would meet with his Russian counterpart at the UN to get Moscow on board with this plan.

“I think Americans should be more realistic and more pragmatic about their approach in Afghanistan,” Asif was quoted as saying.

“They have already lost more than 40 per cent of territory to the Taliban. How do you keep on fighting with them?”

Asif said now was the time for talks and that neighbours were willing to help. A four-country group intended to promote such talks — Pakistan, China, the US, and Afghanistan — which has not met for over a year, could be expanded to include other countries with influence over the Taliban, he said.

Pakistan’s influence over the militant group had waned, he said and added other countries with contacts with the Taliban also needed to be involved, including Iran, China and Russia.

The minister also questioned the US assertion that Pakistan allowed sanctuaries for Afghan militants.

“They don’t need sanctuaries on our territory. They have plenty of territory which Americans have lost to them in Afghanistan during the last 15 years,” Asif said.

“This is scapegoating you know, nothing else.” The foreign minister said it was America’s militaristic policy across the Muslim world that had inflamed much of the violence.

“There is chaos from Afghanistan to Libya, you tell what is the common denominator in this whole chaos,” Asif said. “Has American policy in this whole region, the Middle East and our region, brought peace dividends to anywhere?”


This piece originally appeared in The Express Tribune on September 17, 2017. Original link.


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