After months of speculation and delays over his plans about Afghanistan, US President Donald Trump finally unveiled his strategy to win a war which has stretched over 16 years. Targetting Pakistan for its safe harbour to terrorism over the years, Trump said that America needs to change its approach in dealing with Pakistan, “We cannot be silent about Pakistan’s safe heaven for terror groups.” He was addressing Army troops at Fort Myer.
Identifying Pakistan as a refuge state to terrorism the President said, “Pakistan often gives safe havens to agents of chaos, violence and terror.” Trump went on to add that more than 20 US designated terror organisation are active in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the highest concentration in any region anywhere in the world.
Taking a strong stance against Pakistan, Trump said, “Pakistan has much to gain from our efforts in Afghanistan and it has much to loose by continuing to harbour criminals and terrorists. It has sheltered the same organisations that try every single day to kill our people.” Stressing that things will have to change Trump said that America has been paying Pakistan billions of dollars while at the same time they are housing terror organisation that America is fighting, “but that will have to change immediately.”
Recognising India’s critical role in furthering peace and security in the south Asia region, Trump appreciated India’s contribution to stability in Afghanistan saying, “We want India to help us more with Afghanistan in the area of economic assistance and development and in the broader indo-pacific region.”
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Talking about the simmering tensions between India and Pakistan, Trump said, “The threat is worse because Pakistan and India are two nuclear-armed states whose tense relations threaten to spiral into conflict, and that could happen.” Trump unveiled his approach towards Afghanistan by vowing to continue the fight to avoid any “predictable and unacceptable” results of a rapid and sudden withdrawal of troops from the country.
Calling himself a “problem solver”, Trump said that he inherited a “bad and very complex hand.” Acting completely opposite to his views as expressed during the presidential campaign of pulling out from Afghanistan which was an unsolvable quagmire, Trump said that the decision to pull off might create a vacuum that terrorist organisations like Al-Qaeda and ISIS could instant fill just as happened before September 11. Attacking former president Barack Obama for pulling out “hastily” from Iraq, Trump said that due to those policies Iraq “slipped back into the hands of terrorists, enemies, and we cannot repeat in Afghanistan our leaders made in Iraq.” He added, Working alongside our allies we will break their will, dry up their recruitment, keep them from crossing our border, yes we will defeat them.”
Expressing that American interest in Afghanistan and Pakistan are clear, Trump said, “We must stop the resurgence of safe heavens that enable terrorist to threat America, and we must prevent Nuclear weapons and materials from coming into the hands of terrorists and being used against us or anywhere in the world.”
Saying that the American support to Afghanistan is not a “blank cheque” Trump said that the strategy in Afghanistan will now shift from time based approach to one based on conditions. Without revealing the number of troops to remain stationed in Afghanistan or figures of new deployment in the mountainous country, Trump said, “We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities, conditions on ground not arbitrary time table will guide our strategy.”
Expressing that it is up to the people of Afghanistan to take ownership of their future trump said We are partner and a friend, but we will not dictate to the Afghan people how to live or govern their own complex society.”
Trump’s speech after months of speculation, revealed a renewed strategy by Pentagon in Afghanistan which had been advocating to stay in the country to ensure that Afghan lands are not used as a terror heaven to threaten America again.