ISLAMABAD: Pakistan sounded sceptical on Thursday about President Barack Obama’s plans for a phased withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
The Foreign Office avoided a direct reaction to the announcement and said the matter would be discussed with the US at next week’s meeting of the ‘core group’ on Afghanistan.
The group comprising officials from Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US will meet on June 28 in Kabul.
“We have ongoing engagement on issues of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan and counter-terrorism. We will have the opportunity to discuss these issues in greater detail when the core group of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US will meet,” FO spokesperson Tehmina Janjua said.
President Obama had announced his plan to withdraw 33,000 troops from Afghanistan by next summer.
Strategists here fear that an accelerated withdrawal could intensify fight between insurgents and coalition forces along the Pak-Afghan border and adversely affect the already volatile security situation in Pakistan. Besides, they say, the US may intensify counter-terrorism tactics, including a spike in drone attacks in tribal areas.
Before making the withdrawal announcement, President Obama called his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari to share his plans. The two leaders also discussed ways of repairing the frayed bilateral ties. —Staff Reporter