Karzai asks Trump for shift in US policy towards Islamabad
KABUL: “Donald Trump must make a dramatic, strategic and immediate shift in US policy towards Pakistan. Anything less than that will be a continuation of Afghan misery and rise of extremism”, said Afghanistan’s former President Hamid Karzai as he blamed Barack Obama for failing to address terror sanctuaries in Pakistan which he called the root cause of violence in Afghanistan.
Karzai’s comments come at a time when there is a change of guard in the United States and civilian casualties in Afghanistan are highest since 2001, when the American government unleashed its war against terror. According to United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan the number of civilian casualties in 2015 was over 11,000, the highest since 2009. Approximately 8,400 casualties were reported till September, 2016 and the annual figure is expected to cross the 2015 number.
The Former President has always been extremely critical of Obama’s approach to the war in Afghanistan. He said, “What was conducted in the name of war on terror was hurting Afghan people. There was total failure in addressing the roots of it beyond Afghanistan where sanctuaries, training grounds and motivational factors were located” and that “the support for US war in Afghanistan was at its lowest today”.
Karzai said for Trump to be successful he must take a hard stand against Pakistan and break the status quo. When asked whether Trump should reverse Obama’s policy of troop withdrawal in Afghanistan, he said,
“No, military presence will not help and has not helped. It has to be addressed where the problem is and that is in the use of extremism as an instrument of state policy by our neighbour and this unfortunately has costs not just for Afghanistan but also people of Pakistan.”
The former President also said that Trump must take the lead in this effort and if unable to do so then he must take the help of Russia, China and India to make Pakistan accountable.
When asked about the role of ISI in the recent attacks in Kabul, Heart and Helmand province Karzai said, “There’s no doubt that the ISI and Pakistan military establishment have a strong and long term hand in the instability and violence in Afghanistan but we can’t blame them for everything. We must set our house in order as well”. Talking about the recent protests outside the Pakistan consulate in Herat he said, “These protests have been happening for a long time. People in Afghanistan have a poor perception of Pakistan because of the role played by the ISI and its military”.
Karzai backed India on its present Pakistan policy. He said India was right in rejecting the offer of talks from Pakistan till it ends the use of terror as a tool of state policy.