Pak using uncertainty surrounding US war efforts to cement foothold in Afghanistan

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New York, June 25 (ANI): Pakistan is trying hard to exploit the uncertainty surrounding the US' military efforts in Afghanistan in an apparent bid to drive home a political settlement with the war torn country, and the dismissal of General Stanley McChrystal has only helped Islamabad's cause.

Both Pakistani and US officials believe that the appointment of CENTCOM chief General David Petraeus as the commander for the US led war in Afghanistan would only boost Pakistan's aspirations of playing a larger political role in the country, which has been entangled in war for the last eight years.

According to officials, Pakistan is presenting itself as the new viable partner for Afghanistan to President Hamid Karzai, whose relationship with the Obama administration has soured in the recent times.

While presenting itself as an ally of the US in the Afghan war, Pakistan has apparently been working on many sides to safeguard its own interests in Afghanistan.

Islamabad aims of having an Afghanistan that is pliable and free of the influence of its main strategic obsession, its more powerful neighbour, India, The New York Times said.

While the US has been pressing Pakistan to reign in the Haqqani network, which has links with Al-Qaeda and is offering a stiff resistance to the allied forces in Afghanistan, Pakistan has rejected all pleas to target the terror group on the plea that it's military is already overstretched.

"The Haqqani network has long been Pakistan's crucial anti-India asset and has remained virtually untouched by Pakistani forces in their redoubt inside Pakistan, in the tribal areas on the Afghan border, even as the Americans have pressed Pakistan for an offensive against it," the paper said.

According to American intelligence officials, Pakistan has used the Haqqani fighters to hit Indian targets inside Afghanistan on repeated occasions.

"The Haqqanis have also hit American ones, a possible signal from the Pakistanis to the Americans that it is in their interest, too, to embrace a deal," the report said.

Analysts pointed that Pakistan's offer make the Haqqanis part of the solution in Afghanistan has now been adopted as Islamabad's basic strategy.

"The establishment thinks that without getting Haqqani on board, efforts to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan will be doomed," said Rifaat Hussain professor of international relations at Islamabad University.

"Haqqani has a large fighting force, and by co-opting him into a power-sharing arrangement a lot of bloodshed can be avoided," he added. (ANI)

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