The relationship between the US and Pakistan has deteriorated “alarmingly” over the course of the Afghan conflict, a former national security advisor to President Barack Obama has said.
Arguing that the role of Pakistan is crucial for resolving the Afghan crisis, Gen (rtd) James Jones, former National Security Advisor to Obama, said that there is absence of trust between Pakistan and the US now.
“For a myriad of complex reasons, the relationship between your country and Pakistan, and their respective peoples, has deteriorated alarmingly over the course of this conflict,”Jones on Wednesday said, during a Congressional hearing on Afghanistan.
“The absence of trust, compounded by uncertainty about the future, has left both nations to hedge their bets…to the good of no one and the detriment of all involved. Both nations share substantial common trade, economic, social and security interests,” Jones said.
In that regard, Jones suggested to invigorate the Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement and pursue aggressively other cross-border and regional economic ties with Pakistan.
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“As well, dealing with the alarming growth of extremists, terrorists, and insurgents on both sides of your common frontier should be a high priority and an important basis for constructive dialogue between your Administration and that of the Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad,” he said.
“This dialogue could also serve as the platform for resolving long simmering issues over the Durand Line. The bottom-line is that the Afghan and Pakistani people are in the same lifeboat, adrift in a sea of political turmoil, economic challenge, and extremist threat,” Jones said.
Reaching out to Pakistan is both courageous and timely, and will be strongly supported by the international community, including India, Jones said. Senator Timothy Kaine said the State Department is working to support the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan pipeline project. “We want to get details about what can be done to facilitate the success of that endeavour,” he said.
Fatema Sumar, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State of the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, said the US supports the Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India natural gas pipeline known as TAPI.
“If ultimately brought to fruition, this project would be a game-changer for the Indian subcontinent,” she said.