Pakistan responded cautiously on Wednesday to the new Afghanistan strategy announced by U.S. President Barack Obama, saying it needed a fuller understanding of it and wanted to ensure there would be no negative fall-out for itself.
Pakistan is pivotal to the new plan which envisages defeating the Al-Qaeda and weakening the Taliban in the next 18 months to an extent that they will no longer pose a threat to the U.S., or to the Afghan government.
Separately, news reports have spoken of an unstated but simultaneous expansion of U.S. covert actions in Pakistan by the CIA against Al-Qaeda and Taliban sanctuaries, including in Balochistan.
In a statement, the Foreign Ministry welcomed Mr. Obama’s reaffirmation of the partnership between the two countries built on mutual interest, respect and trust, and of the strong support for Pakistan’s security and prosperity.
But calling for “clarity and co-ordination on all aspects of the implementation of the strategy”, the Foreign Ministry said to achieve “shared objectives”, Pakistan and the U.S. need to closely co-ordinate their efforts.
“Pakistan looks forward to engaging closely with U.S. in understanding the full import of the new strategy and to ensure that there would be no adverse fallout on Pakistan.”
It is unclear what the Pakistan military thinks of the new plan, but the announcement of a withdrawal date for U.S. troops is likely to strengthen the hands of lobbies in Pakistan who advocate talks with the Afghan Taliban, and think of them as a counterfoil to increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan.