Withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan (Endgame): Issues and challenges for Pakistan Syed Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi ♣ Abstract Obama administration seems to have fulfilled the US agenda in Afghanistan: killing of Osama Bin Ladin, breaking the backbone of terrorism in the region, reconstruction and democratization of Afghanistan. President Obama asserted recently that Afghanistan no longer represents a terrorist threat to the US. According to him, “tide of war is receding” and that “America, it is time to focus on nation-building here at home”. If, largely, the goals in Afghanistan are achieved, this means setting in motion a substantial withdrawal of the US forces. This would acknowledge the formal end of terrorism and a shift of his administration’s focus towards the fast-changing political and economic landscape in the US. His second woe can be accepted in harsh reality of domestic economic restrains. However, the tide of war against terrorism has not receded. This paper/ presentation will focus on the US announcement of the withdrawal of forces, the endgame in Afghanistan and its implications on Pakistan with a futuristic view. Key words: US, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Taliban, Policy Mr. Obama announced plans to withdraw 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year. He said the drawdown would continue “at a steady pace” until the United States handed over security to the Afghan authorities in 2014. The decision to withdraw forces from Afghanistan has been taken by the president who faces relentless budget pressures, an increasingly restive American public and a re-election campaign next year (The New York Time, 2011, June 22). It is well-understood that the US is facing a deep but challenging financial crunch at home. However, “ending the war responsibly” is just the other way round. This conflict has cost hundreds of billions of dollars and 1,500 American lives (The New York Time, 2011, June 22). Exit strategy in haste will ruin all the sacrifices and investment. Terrorism is a menace which has not yet been curbed in Afghanistan or Pakistan in its totality. The American policy makers have coined a unique term to define two nations fighting against the terror despite believing in –one nation one state- phenomenon. They call ♣
Author is Lecturer, Department of International Relations and Director, South Asian Centre for International and Regional Studies (SACIRS), Peshawar – Pakistan.
Syed Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi
Pakistan and Afghanistan as “AfPak” (Raza, 2009: 120). AfPak region is worse affected by the terror and terror as a threat. Terror is still persistent and the threat is still looming on the heads of not only the ‘Af-Pak’ but also for the US interests in the region. After the Death of Osama Bin Ladin (OBL) In September 2001, OBL was a major factor in US attack over Afghanistan in 2001. However, when the mastermind of the 11 September attacks in the US and the world most wanted man was killed in a US operation in the northwestern Pakistan in May 2011, the US president Barak Obama announced it in a statement that, “justice has been done" (The Guardian, 2011, May 2). Back then some section of people were considering the OBL death not only a great achievement for the US forces in Afghanistan so far, but they also were not sure of any phenomenal role left anymore for the US forces to stay longer in Afghanistan. But the high US officials have made it clearer when they started giving an impression that with the end of OBL, the war on terror is not yet over. Of course, when it comes to the US adversaries in the region, Taliban are stronger than the last time. The use of extensive military force to eliminate the Taliban and its Al-Qaeda supporters has not yielded positive military results in Afghanistan. The Taliban movement has shown greater resilience over the...