Failure of Tillerson’s visit


US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent visit to South Asian countries, including Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, has failed to make a breakthrough in efforts for peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan as the United States continued its hegemonistic approach to impose its policies to solve the sensitive issue. Tillerson’s tour had been expected and touted as very crucial to start a process for regional peace as well as Afghanistan’s security situation, but his short stopovers in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and threatening statements against the latter, the oldest and important stakeholder in the issue, disappointed the optimists. Before stopping in Pakistan for few hours, the US secretary of state’s media talks against Pakistan at the Bagram military base in Afghanistan triggered an anger and disappointment in Pakistani circles, which finally led to a failure in talks between the two sides over bilateral relations, cooperation in the war on terror, and Afghan peace process.
Tillerson had a few hours stopover in Pakistan on his way to India on Tuesday afternoon, during which he led a delegation in talks with Pakistan’s top civil and military leaders on multiple issues, focusing on cooperation for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. Peace lovers and local watchers in Pakistan were hyping the Tillerson’s visit as a great opportunity to restart bilateral cooperation for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, but Tillerson’s statements before and after his Pakistan visit has disappointed optimists and even confused the situation further.
Tillerson’s statement in Afghanistan that the United States will work with Pakistan under the condition whether it takes action against the terrorist groups or not was seriously criticised in Pakistan, and country’s Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani rejected it and said he (Tillerson) is behaving like a viceroy, a higher designation of British rule in the Indian subcontinent. Moreover, during a joint press conference along with his Indian counterpart in New Delhi, Tillerson once again blamed Pakistan for its “inaction” against terrorist organisations and reiterated Donald Trump’s call for the “country to do more to address a growing problem of terrorism within its borders, which can lead to a threat to Pakistan’s own stability”.
Meanwhile, a senior US diplomat for South Asia Alice Wells has said that the United States wants Pakistan to move quickly to show good faith in supporting efforts to counter militants operating in Afghanistan and in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table. Speaking after accompanying US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on a visit to the region, Wells said Washington looked forward to seeing practical steps from Pakistan over the next few weeks and months.
According to her, the Secretary of State stressed the importance of Pakistan moving quickly to demonstrate good faith and efforts to use its influence to create the conditions that will get the Taliban to the negotiating table. She said Washington wanted Pakistan to show the same commitment it had made to defeat militant groups domestically to those threatening Afghanistan or India.
Wells went on to suggest that the Washington simply wants Islamabad to do what it has done in the past when it took a strategic decision to defeat the terrorist groups that were targeting the government of Pakistan.
Relations between uneasy allies US and Pakistan have frayed in recent years, with Washington repeatedly accusing Islamabad of helping Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network militants who stage attacks in Afghanistan. Pakistan denies doing so.
US President Donald Trump has vowed to get tough with Pakistan unless it changed its behaviour, with US officials threatening further reductions in aid and mooting targeted sanctions against Pakistani officials. On Monday, during a visit to Kabul, Tillerson urged Pakistan to act against safe havens on its soil. “Pakistan needs to, I think, take a clear-eyed view of the situation that they are confronted with in terms of the number of terrorist organisations that find safe haven inside of Pakistan ,” he said.
Pakistani officials bristle at the idea that the country is not doing enough against militants and say it has suffered more than 60,000 casualties in the war on terror since the September 11 attacks in the US in 2001.