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The challenge in Chicago

22 May 2012 09:58 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The NATO summit in Chicago seems to be in a fix. Though the leaders had converged with a sense of understanding to scale down their responsibilities and walk out of Afghanistan in grace, and that too at the earliest, the change of heart from Washington has acted as a spanner in works.

The United States plea that the West and NATO should maintain their presence despite their scheduled withdrawal in 2014 is merely jumping over the gun. This has come to obstruct an earlier understanding through which Germany, Britain and the US had agreed to an international fund to help Afghan forces after the NATO pullout. The estimated $4 billion fund is indispensable for security and stability in the war-torn country, and shouldn’t come under debate on the premise of prolonging Coalition forces presence in Afghanistan. The second thoughts that Pentagon is nursing these days of staying put in southwest Asia for a longer period of time will not come to solve any of the problems. Exiting Afghanistan is sine qua non for peace, and only then can the forces of inertia come into play to evolve an inbuilt political serenity.

The faux pas in Chicago has turned out to be how to deal with Pakistan. The invitation to Islamabad was widely considered to be a gesture that would work in reopening the supply lines. But what Pakistan has asked for in Chicago is nothing new — with the only exception of putting up a higher price tag for resuming supplies. The enigma of drones and seeking an unconditional apology for the attack on its soldiers has for long been debated. It is a fact that drone strikes have come to derail the goodwill that the war on terrorism had once bred in the region, and now it has landed both Pakistan and the US in a tight corner where their sincerity is highly doubted. Secondly, the aspect of interpreting geostrategic needs in commercial terms is what that is surprising Washington and the NATO allies! The answer as far as Pakistan is concerned could be in making its ends meet, as it faces a severe economic backlash. The Chicago summit shouldn’t waste this opportunity of building more bridges and chartering out a roadmap through which not only the mess in Afghanistan is addressed but also peace restored in southwest Asia. NATO’s future role should be one of a catalyst for stability and not one of an occupation force.
Khaleej Times
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