US expert says drones will not influence Afghan settlement outcome
WASHINGTON: The US drone strikes against suspected militant hideouts in tribal areas will ultimately fail to influence the outcome of an Afghan settlement but they have already severely tarnished America’s image in Pakistan, an American expert stressed in a newspaper opinion piece.
Michael Krepon, who is Director South Asian Program at the Stimson Center, noted in The Washington Post that Afghanistan’s future matters more critically to Pakistan than to the United States.
“Afghanistan’s future matters much more to Pakistan than to the United States. This elemental truth is forgotten in US deliberations about how best to leverage Pakistan to achieve a political settlement in Afghanistan,” he remarked.
About the unmanned predator drone strikes that the US regularly carries out against militant sanctuaries, the expert notes they have succeeded in casting the US in more negative light than even longtime rival India in that country.
“These strikes will ultimately fail to influence the outcome of an Afghan settlement, but they have already succeeded in making the United States more hated in Pakistan than India.”
Islamabad has repeatedly denounced drone attacks on its tribal areas as counterproductive to the overall fight against terror; as such unilateral actions violate the country’s sovereignty and provoke militancy.
Human rights activists have also condemned drone strikes for killing civilians. The Obama administration officials claim drones are important in taking out al Qaeda linked militants.
In the Post writing, Krepon says, Pakistan wants a government in Kabul that, after most US troops withdraw in 2014, will be friendlier to it than India.
Pakistani resolve is rooted in the assumption that, if India gains a strong foothold in Afghanistan, then Pakistan’s largest and most resource-rich province, Balochistan, would be ripe for an India-supported insurgency, the writer says in the piece, which looks at various aspects of relations, policies and continuing tensions between the two countries.