Dawn – Poliovirus that originated in Afghanistan detected in Rawalpindi

Islamabad Capital Region – Pakistan, 23 September 2018. Poliovirus that originated in the Northern Corridor in Afghanistan, Kandahar and Helmand, has been detected in various Pakistani cities including Rawalpindi.

Emergency Operations Centre for Polio Eradication National Coordinator Rana Mohammad Safdar said the virus has been detected in Peshawar and other cities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as well.

“This shows that there is a threat because of the virus, which is travelling with people from Afghanistan to Pakistan, so we need to ensure our children’s immunity level is high to keep them safe from the virus,” he added.

A total of 14 cases have been reported near the border in Afghanistan, as polio vaccination campaigns cannot be held in some provinces for security reasons.

The area where the polio-virus originated can be detected through DNA testing. In 2013, the Syrian government had alleged that polio-virus that originated in the then Federally Administered Tribal Areas had travelled to Syria because of Pakistanis who were fighting alongside rebels.

First nationwide vaccination campaign of 2018-19 starts tomorrow

“Three cases have been reported from Balochistan, but all three were reported from one district and two adjacent union councils. Such cases are considered a single case, as the same virus attacks the children.

“The fourth polio-virus case was detected in Charsadda in an 18-month-old child. Although the child was affected by polio, he was not paralysed because he not only received all the doses in the routine immunisation but also in door-to-door campaigns,” he said.

Children have to be vaccinated as long as the virus exists to keep their immunity levels high, Dr Safdar added.

Pakistan has started its final push towards the interruption of the polio-virus with the first nationwide door-to-door vaccination campaign of the 2018-19 low transmission season tomorrow (Monday), in all districts other than Sheikhupura and Orakzai.

The vaccinations in those two areas will start a day later, as an urs will be held in Sheikhupura and a procession is scheduled in Orakzai for September 24, Dr Safdar said.

“The campaign is fully synchronised with Afghanistan to ensure effective vaccination of mobile children as well,” he added.

The vaccination programme will target 38.6 million children under the age of five, including approximately 19.2m in Panjab, 8.9m in Sindh, 6.8m in KP (including the tribal districts), 2.5m in Balochistan, 700,000 in Azad Kashmir, 237,000 in Gilgit-Baltistan and 330,000 in Islamabad.

It will be spread over three days, plus one or two days for catch-up work, and five days plus two catch-up days in core reservoir areas.

“A Vitamin A supplement will also be administered to around 35m children aged between six and 59 months during this campaign along with the OPV, aimed at boosting immunity against all infection diseases including measles,” Dr Safdar said.

According to a statement, a total of 260,000 personnel will participate in the campaign across the country. This includes 26,169 area in-charges, 7,958 union council medical officers and 190,950 mobile, 10,271 fixed and 11,998 transit team members.

The National Emergency Operations Centre has also deployed 40 experts to facilitate preparedness by local teams in priority areas.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1434385/poliovirus-that-originated-in-afghanistan-detected-in-rawalpindi

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Tolo News – Insecurity, drought displace 300,000 Afghans

Minister of Refugees and Repatriation says 52 camps have been established in Kabul for displaced families.

Abdul Wadood Salangi

Kabul – Kabul province – Afghanistan, 21 September 2018. Figures by Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation show that 300,000 Afghans have been displaced this year in the country due to drought and insecurity.

Almost 80,000 of the internally displaced persons are living in Kabul, said Sayed Hussain Alemi Balkhi, the Minister of Refugees and Repatriation.

Balkhi said drought has displaced residents of 20 provinces in the recent years.

“We have 52 camps for displaced families in different parts of Kabul. Nearly 10,000 displaced families are living in these camps. The total number of the displaced persons in Kabul is between 70,000 to 80,000,” said Balkhi.

Some displaced families from Nangarhar said they are faced with “numerous challenges”.

“Clashes are ongoing in our district. There is no one to collect, transfer and bury those who lose their lives in the clashes. We are faced with various problems at the moment,” said Mohammad Ali, an internally displaced person from Nangarhar’s Achin district.

Ezor Khan, a resident of Achin district, said insecurity forced them to leave their homes two times.

“Achin residents are facing with lots of problems imposed by Daesh. A number of people had to go to mountains to collect bushes of pine nuts, but Daesh fighters killed them. Now no one dares to bring the bodies down to the village,” said Khan.

Ziar Khan, 10, member of a displaced family from Nangarhar, said he has bad memories from the clashes in Achin district. He said he continues his education in Kabul to make his future.

“We are tired of war. We want peace and want to live in a peaceful environment,” said Ziar Khan.

A report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that an estimated 253,600 people are currently displaced from drought affected areas across the Western Region.

The report says that 2.2 million people have been affected by drought in Afghanistan.

According to the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), recently 120,000 people have been displaced only in Badghis province due to droughts.

Among displaced families in the provinces of the Western Region, the situation is even more dire with 82 percent of the families having a poor food consumption score and 72 per cent having had to resort to negative coping mechanisms like reducing food intake or the number of meals, according to the Drought Impact and Needs Assessment (DINA) conducted by OCHA, UNDP and partners.

https://www.tolonews.com/afghanistan/insecurity-drought-displace-300000-afghans

Dawn – Citizenship for Afghans, Bengalis opposed

Peshawar – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 21 September 2018. Businessmen and traders on Thursday rejected the prime minister’s announcement for the grant of Pakistani citizenship to Afghan nationals living in the country for decades and warned that if the government made such a move, they would stop paying taxes and utility bills.

In separate statements, All Pakistan Commercial Exporters Association chairman Abdul Jalil, Peshawar Chamber of Small Traders and Small Industries senior vice president Haji Mamoor Khan and Markaz Tanzeem-i-Tajiran Khyber Pakhtunkhwa president Malik Mehr Ilahi urged the premier to withdraw announcement on citizenship for Afghans, Bengalis saying it has caused serious unrest among businessmen and traders.

Mr Jalil said the country had around four million Afghans and most of them lived in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where they completely controlled different businesses.

“These Afghan nationals are not paying any kind of tax and are in the habit of fleeing to their own country whenever the Federal Board of Revenue or other tax collecting agency cracks down on tax evaders,” he said.

He said Pakistanis regularly paid taxes but didn’t get incentives.

Mr Mamoor said the premier had issued the citizenship statement without knowing ground realities.

“We (businessmen and traders) have been left with no option but to stop paying utility bills and taxes as the foreigners doing different businesses don’t pay taxes,” he warned.

Mr Ilahi said the grant of Pakistani citizenship to Afghans would turn the local population into a minority as the Afghan nationals had a majority in many areas, especially in markets.

He said various trader bodies of the province would hold a joint meeting after Ashura to take a unified stand on the matter.

“The traders of Peshawar have unanimously rejected the premier’s announcement on citizenship for Afghans,” he said.

The trader leader said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had already suffered heavily due to militancy but the successive governments had never considered it serious to support the people affected by it.

He said instead of awarding citizenship to foreigners, the government should focus on the resolution of the problems of own tax-paying citizens.

Mr Ilahi said Afghanis had controlled business in the country and if they were given citizenship, then the local traders won’t be able to do business.

He said before granting citizenship to Afghans, the government should seek proposals from stakeholders to make a decision in the best national interest.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1434169/citizenship-for-afghans-bengalis-opposed

Tolo News – Activists meet Balkh residents, insist peace will come

Aref Musavi

Balkh – Balkh – Afghanistan, 14 September 2018. The activists said their campaign for peace will continue to other provinces to pass on their message to everyone in Afghanistan.

Members of People’s Peace Movement held talks with Balkh residents in the north of Afghanistan as they arrived in Mazar-e-Sharif City on Friday after a 34-day walking journey, barefoot.

They said they are sure that peace will be “finally” ensured in Afghanistan.

The activists were warmly welcomed by Balkh residents and members of the provincial council in Ferdawsi Circle where they gathered and talked about peace. The activists went to the Blue Mosque as well.

Talking to the people, members of the movement said they have met many people during their journey from Kabul to Balkh and that everyone wants an end to the war.

“There is no power bigger than Almighty Allah’s. By having this in our minds, we left our homes to bring the people together and raise our voices for peace,”said Iqbal Khyber, leader of the peace movement.

Ehsanullah Quraishi, who joined the peace movement in Baghlan province, said there is no family in Afghanistan who has not suffered from the war.

“Afghans should follow the route to peace and should select a specific place for peace and come together there,” said Quraishi.

The peace activists were warmly welcomed by Balkh residents who stressed the need for unity among Afghans.

“By such moves, we can play an effective role in bringing peace to the country,” Balkh resident Rafiullah said.

“We should increase pressure on government and insurgents to bring peace to Afghanistan,” said Afzal Hadid, head of Balkh Provincial Council.

The peace activists said they will tackle any threats in their efforts for peace and that pressure from any group cannot stop them from their will.

The journey began in Helmand

The peace activists initially launched their protest in Lashkargah City after a suicide bombing outside a stadium in March. About a month later, a group of eight protestors left Helmand on foot for Kabul.

The activists walked through towns and villages, crossed provinces and met with local residents along the way. For 38 days, they walked and as they progressed, so their numbers grew.

About 700 kms later, the group of eight had grown to an estimated 100. They arrived in Kabul on June 18 and handed over demands for a ceasefire and peace to both the Afghan government and the Taliban.

The group gave the Taliban three days in which to answer and said if they failed to do so, they would embark on sit in protests outside diplomatic offices and missions in the capital.

The Taliban’s deadline passed without any response. The activists then held a three-day sit-in protest outside UNAMA’s office in Kabul. They sent a letter to the UN Secretary General António Guterres in which they asked him not to remain indifferent towards ending the ongoing war in Afghanistan.

From there, they moved on to the US embassy, where they stayed for nine days. The activists sent a letter to the American people, asking them to put pressure on the US government to end the war in Afghanistan.

The activists, whose ages range from 17 to 65, come from all walks of life and include students, athletes and farmers among others.

The activists also established sit-in protest camp in front of Iranian, Pakistan, Russian and British embassies as well as the office of the European Union in Kabul.

The movement called on Afghan allies to put pressure on Pakistan to stop its interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan.

https://www.tolonews.com/afghanistan/activists%C2%A0meet-balkh%C2%A0residents%C2%A0insist-peace-will-come

Dawn – Foreign Minister Qureshi, Afghan president discuss bilateral ties, regional security in Kabul

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Saturday reached Kabul to meet Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and other senior officials during his maiden trip to any country after assuming his new responsibilities.

Kabul – Kabul Province – Pakistan, 15 September 2018. In his one-on-one meeting with the Afghan president, bilateral relations as well as matters relating to regional peace and security were discussed, Radio Pakistan reported.

Qureshi also held delegation-level talks with the Afghan side during which a range of issues concerning bilateral relations came under discussion.

The foreign minister separately met his Afghan counterpart, Salahuddin Rabbani. Delegations of both sides were present during the meeting.

Qureshi was quoted as saying during the meeting that Pakistan and Afghanistan will have to make joint efforts to meet their challenges.

He stressed that there is a great potential to further bolster relations and cooperation between the two countries, according to Radio Pakistan.

In his remarks, the Afghan foreign minister said a peaceful environment in Pakistan and Afghanistan is vital for regional peace. He said his country desires cordial relations with all neighbouring countries, including Pakistan.

Earlier, Qureshi was received by Afghan military officials on his arrival in Kabul, according to a tweet by his party, the PTI.

“The talks are an important milestone in ushering an era of peace and regional stability and forming a partnership that will benefit both Pakistan and Afghanistan,” the tweet said.

Speaking to Dawn on Friday, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had said that Foreign Minister Qureshi’s day-long visit to Kabul aimed at improving coordination between the two countries.

“The main purpose of the foreign minister’s visit is to improve coordination on security-related issues between the two countries,” he added.

To underscore the importance of the trip, he said it would be Qureshi’s first visit to Kabul (after becoming foreign minister) and it showed that Afghanistan was on top of Pakistan’s foreign policy.

On September 3, Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani had phoned FM Qureshi to greet him on his appointment as foreign minister. He also extended him an invitation to visit Kabul.

Media reports earlier suggested that Qureshi would extend an invitation on behalf of Prime Minister Imran Khan to President Ghani to visit Pakistan.

Marked improvement in relations has been observed since Islamabad and Kabul agreed to operationalise the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS), the new bilateral ties framework that, according to the Foreign Office, provided the most comprehensive institutional mechanism to discuss all mutual issues.

During their phone conversation earlier this month, both Qureshi and his Afghan counterpart Rabbani agreed that the next round of APAPPS would soon be held in Islamabad.

Civil-military leadership discusses foreign policy, security challenges [bold]

Also on Friday, the country’s civil and military leadership sat together at PM Office to discuss foreign policy challenges.

Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Inter-Services Intelligence director general Lt General Naveed Mukhtar, FM Qureshi, the foreign secretary and other senior officials were present at a high-level meeting chaired by PM Khan.

“Bilateral relations with certain friendly countries and issues relating to security came under discussion during the meeting,” said a brief statement issued after the meeting.

However, the information minister told Dawn that the meeting discussed issues related to foreign policy and security. “The participants also discussed the strategy for the future visits of some foreign dignitaries,” he added.

Moreover, he said, the army chief also briefed the meeting about his last visit to Kabul.

General Bajwa had travelled to Kabul in June and held a one-on-one meeting with Afghan President Ghani.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1433085/fm-qureshi-afghan-president-discuss-bilateral-ties-regional-security-in-kabul

BBC News – Why Afghanistan is more dangerous than ever

Kabul – Kabul province – Afghanistan, 14 September 2018. Huge death tolls that would once have made headlines are becoming commonplace in Afghanistan, as the Taliban and other militant groups flex their muscles daily against a US-backed military struggling to cope.

There remains no clear end in sight for a war that has turned into a bloody stalemate, as the BBC World Service’s Dawood Azami explains.

Is the violence getting worse?

Since the US-led invasion in 2001, Afghanistan has never been as insecure as it is now. The Taliban control more territory than at any point since the removal of their regime 17 years ago.

The Afghan war has already become the longest war in US history. With the passage of time, the conflict has not only become more intense – it has also become more complicated.

The attacks are becoming bigger, more frequent, more widespread and much deadlier. Both sides – the Taliban and the US/Nato-backed Afghan government – are trying to gain the upper hand.

On 10 August, the Taliban entered Ghazni, a strategic provincial capital on a key highway south of Kabul, before the Afghan security forces supported by US advisors and air strikes pushed them back. On 15 May, the Taliban entered the capital of Farah province in western Afghanistan, close to the Iranian border.

Many Taliban fighters are killed and injured as they are pushed back after attacks on provincial capitals, but such attacks have a huge propaganda value for the group and boost their morale and recruitment.

The insurgents also take weapons and vehicles with them as they retreat. Many other towns and district centres remain under constant Taliban threat.

Large parts of provinces like Helmand and Kandahar – where hundreds of US, UK and other foreign troops were killed – are now under Taliban control. Meanwhile, civilian casualties are at an unprecedented level.

According to the UN, more than 10,000 civilians were killed or injured in 2017, and the number is expected to be even higher in 2018.

To read the full article :

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-45507560

The Express Tribune – Religious harmony: Kurram’s gurdwara to be restored

Shabqadar – Kurram – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 14 September 2018. A historical gurdwara in the Kurram tribal district will be rebuilt in a sign of interreligious harmony in the militancy-hit area. The gurdwara, a place of worship for the Sikhs, is located in the Ibrahim Zai area of the Kurram tribal district.

Sardar Malik Gorphal Singh, the first Malik of Sikhs in the tribal district, told The Express Tribune via telephone that work on building a three-kilometre road to the facility, a hall and three rooms of the gurdwara had been kicked off by GOC 9 Infantry Division commander Major-General Nauman Zakaria and the Kurram Militia’s chief Wing Commander Maqsood Anjum earlier in the week.

Hamza Akram Qawwal requests Indian government to relax visa laws

Singh further stated that the officials have promised to build a monument on Malana Road on the site of the historical gurdwara which was demolished a few years ago while widening the Kurram agency road.

The Sikh leader said that there were four historical gurdwaras in the area which spanned the tribal areas on both sides of the Durand Line.

PTI’s Sikh lawmaker a breath of fresh air in Punjab Assembly

One of these was in Khost province of Afghanistan and three were in Kurram, collectively they are known as the Gurdawara Thala Sahib. According to Sikh traditions, Baba Guru Nanak is believed to have stayed at these locations while travelling to and from Afghanistan during his journeys (Udasis) in the early 16th century.

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1802698/1-religious-harmony-kurrams-gurdwara-restored/

Dawn – ‘Our salvation lies in Jinnah’s Pakistan’

Shazia Hasan

Karachi – Sindh – Pakistan, 13 September 2018: “We have moved too far from Jinnah’s Pakistan and it means taking a big U-turn to get back to that point again.

Our salvation lies in Jinnah’s Pakistan,” said former senior diplomat Zafar Hilaly in a conversation about ‘New foreign policy approaches for a new Pakistan’ with senior journalist and author Mujahid Barelvi at the Oxford Bookshop on Wednesday.

About whether Prime Minister Imran Khan can achieve that, he said that he until now has been seen as a spokesman for the opposition so he will need to change his tone in his new role.

Speaking about foreign policies of the past governments, Mr Hilaly said that family-based politics have not allowed a proper foreign policy as yet.

Former diplomat Zafar Hilaly throws light on Pakistan’s new foreign policy

“How can your foreign policy be about favouring the country where a political family found refuge? If you settle down in the United Arab Emirates, you let them make unreasonable demand, if you took refuge in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, you let them dictate their terms regarding Yemen,” he pointed out.

“The system must change. And if you don’t have change, what ‘Naya Pakistan’ are we even talking about?”

Mr Barelvi then asked Mr Hilaly whether PM Khan would be able to handle pressure from Pakistan’s neighbours Iran, Afghanistan, India, etc.

Mr Hilaly shared how he himself had gone to meet the Iranian president in 1996 after being mandated by the then prime minister, the late Benazir Bhutto, to take to him the message of peace after realising that Ahmad Shah Masood in Afghanistan was receiving help from Iran.

“I said to him that you are our elder brother and elder brothers should not take advantage of their younger brothers, and he was moved. He said he was thrilled to find someone speaking straight from the heart to him.

Although things didn’t go as planned then, if you don’t beat about the bush and say directly what you want to say, there is a huge scope,” said Mr Hilaly.

Dwelling more on Iran, Mr Barelvi said that when we talk of insurgency and militancy in Balochistan, we blame India but Balochistan is touching Iran.

Mr Hilaly explained that there was a sectarian divide also.

“There are the Jundallah who are fanatics and there is the open border. It is a big border and the traffic of people cannot be stopped. The Iranians also don’t blame Pakistan for the killing of Shias, but still they are befriending India.

But there too, as Iran feels that the condition of Muslims anywhere is their concern, they have aired their unhappiness over how badly Muslims are being treated in Indian-occupied Kashmir,” he said.

Pakistan also shares a huge border with Afghanistan.

Mr Hilaly said that some 40,000 people cross the Durand Line every day due to which American forces in Afghanistan blame Pakistan for sending in militants to attack them, which is not true as Pakistan has also suffered greatly due to this border when Afghan people crossed over during the Russian invasion and the drugs and terrorism problems that also emerged due to this.

Then coming to another neighbour India, Mr Hilaly said that Pakistan can handle India but not when India has American support.

“India is producing more nuclear [energy] from uranium that they claim as an indigenous production, which is not true. Why is the US supplying them enriched uranium which they have banned elsewhere is anybody’s guess,” he said.

“The Indo-Soviet treaty enabled India to neutralise China as they themselves went after East Pakistan. Now what do their various pacts with America mean?”

At this Mr Barelvi wondered how the poor new Pakistani PM can break the deep-rooted ties between India and America. Mr Hilaly said that Pakistan should no longer be looking at America and expecting support from there.

“They have chosen India. Tell me, did Obama visit Pakistan? Even if Clinton did come here he didn’t have very nice things to say to us. They would have told us to get lost long ago had it not been for the IMF,” he pointed out.

“Pakistan should waste no time with India, too, with Modi, RSS, BJP, etc., busy hunting Muslims there as if it were a sport for them. India is not interested in any relations with Pakistan with or without Imran Khan with Modi around,” he said.

“Imran, too, should see the writing on the wall. Our friendship with the US is also like an unhappy marriage, which should end. Our views are different. We don’t see eye to eye on anything,” he advised.

“Our interests lie with Russia, Iran, China and Turkey, certainly not Trump’s America. Pakistan should concentrate on those countries with which they share affinity,” he said.

“PM Imran Khan should not field at silly mid-off, he should do it from long off,” he added.

Earlier, in his welcome address Arshad Saeed Husain, managing director of Oxford University Press, said that the talk was part of a series of discussions focusing on the ‘Naya Pakistan’ that everyone is so looking forward to.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1432553/our-salvation-lies-in-jinnahs-pakistan

Tolo News – President Ashraf Ghani fails to tackle corruption, investigation shows

President Ashraf Ghani promised to root out corruption in public office; however, Afghanistan is still among most corrupt countries in the world

Tamim Hamid

Kabul – Kabul Province – Afghanistan, 08 September 2018. During his 2014 presidential campaign, President Ashraf Ghani vowed to overcome corruption during his term in office and said he would ensure the country’s ranking on the corruption index improved.

An investigation by TOLO news however shows that Afghanistan has not improved.

In one of his election campaign speeches in the run up to 2014 polls, Ghani said: “Wait, in two years instead of being accused of being the worst country in corruption, we will rise at least 100 points (on the global index).”

In some cases, he made even more ambitious promises on fighting corruption.

“Corruption is widespread. We hope that we reduce it by 50 percent within the next five years. It cannot be reduced 100 percent. Anyone who says this to you, he lies,” Ghani said in a TV debate during his election campaign.

At the time Afghanistan was ranked 172nd in the world in terms of corruption. In 2015 it rose to 166th position, in 2016 it dropped to 169 and last year it was at a dismal 177 on Transparency International’s Corruption Perspective Index.

And this out of 180 countries.

Fingers have been pointed at the National Unity Government by analysts and MPs with some saying not enough has been done to stamp out the problem.

“Efforts against corruption have not been done in the way that the people of Afghanistan expected. Today, too, corruption is widespread in government offices and different organisations,” said Fatima Aziz, an MP.

Meanwhile, the results of a survey carried out by Integrity Watch every two years, shows that the volume of minor corruption incidents totaled a whopping $2.9 billion in 2016 while this figure was $2 billion in 2014 and a lot less in 2010 and 2012.

“The National Unity Government was afraid of establishing the independent anti-corruption commission which could make efforts non-political and independent. Unfortunately, it used its resources to prevent the embellishment of such a commission,” said Naser Temori, a researcher at Integrity Watch Afghanistan.

https://www.tolonews.com/afghanistan/ghani-fails-tackle-corruption-investigation-shows

Dawn – The US has delivered an object lesson in how not to conduct diplomacy.

Editorial, 03 September 2018. Mere days ahead of a short visit by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Pakistan, the US Department of Defence has announced a permanent aid cut to Pakistan of $300m.

The move has surely been coordinated across the Trump administration and now what remains to be seen is if Secretary Pompeo will try and bully the Pakistani leadership during his visit or if he will be deployed in a more traditional good-cop diplomatic role.

The aid cut-off is not new and has already been factored into budgetary estimates, so perhaps the measure is designed to placate hawks inside the Trump administration.

But it will surely rankle in Pakistan and rightly so: more than the aid, it is the hectoring and aggressive tone of the Trump administration towards Pakistan combined with an apparent disregard for a peace process in Afghanistan that is a problem.

Yet, Pakistan ought to react cautiously and avoid unnecessary public wrangling. The US aid cut-off has come on the heels of Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s warm visit to Pakistan in which the latter emphasised its support for Iran and the nuclear deal that the US unilaterally pulled out of.

That could be a factor in the Trump administration’s apparent pique at Pakistan. Moreover, Pakistan is almost sure to shortly turn to international creditors and the US has already indicated a willingness to overtly bring geopolitics into the workings of the IFIs.

But a cautious public reaction can be accompanied by a robust defence in private.

The focus in Afghanistan should be a peace process with the Afghan Taliban, and while Pakistan has consistently expressed an interest in supporting a peace process, it can only do so much in the face of political disarray in Afghanistan and reluctance in the US to engage the Taliban in dialogue.

The US and the Taliban may be locked in a different kind of race now: both are trying to maximise their advantage on the battlefield to win greater concessions from the other side at the dialogue table.

If that is in fact what the US is aiming for, Pakistan can emphasise the role it can play to facilitate a dialogue among the Taliban, the Afghan government and the US.

The longest war in US history will not change dramatically in military terms, but political support for the war in the US can only further deteriorate. President Donald Trump clearly only reluctantly agreed to extend the war in Afghanistan and is reported to be frustrated with the lack of progress that he was promised by his generals.

Secretary Pompeo and US national security and military officials ought to stop pursuing counterproductive strategies and work towards the common international goal of ending the war in Afghanistan and blunting the IS threat.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1430667/us-aid-cut