Islamabad, Jun 4 (PTI) Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Dr Moeed Yusuf has said that the hasty withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan was not a good idea and Washington has assured Islamabad that it will not be made a 'scapegoat' in the midst of the process that could create a security vacuum in the war-torn country.
The US has announced troop withdrawal from Afghanistan by September 11. Pakistan has said that it is worried about a security vacuum in Afghanistan after the US pullout because of a stalemate in the peace process.
Speaking to DawnNewsTV, Yusuf said Pakistan always wanted peace in Afghanistan and the hasty withdrawal of US troops from the country was not a good idea.
“(The) United States has assured us that Pakistan will not be made a scapegoat amidst the withdrawal (of US troops) from Afghanistan, but only time will tell whether (they stay true to their word) as history suggests otherwise,' Yusuf said.
He said it was “too early to predict whether they (the US) will stick to their words.” Yusuf also stressed that Pakistan needed to maintain bilateral ties with the US, which continued to view Pakistan as a regional player, without compromising on national interests.
“The approach is still regional. (Though), they (the US) have shifted focus from Af-Pak and are now obsessed with China, seeing India (as a country) that has a role to play (in this equation),” he said.
He also denied reports that Pakistan was allowing the US to continue to use its air bases.
“It has been very clearly communicated to the Americans so it's not debatable,” he said, adding that Prime Minister Imran Khan had been opposing the war in Afghanistan for the past 15 years, so allowing the US access to air bases after its withdrawal from Afghanistan was not on the table.
“It's important for all stakeholders in Afghanistan to sit together for a… political settlement,” the NSA said.
Yusuf also emphasised on the economic stability for Afghanistan, saying that the Afghan economy could not function without support from the outside.
“And for that, only Pakistan can give them the regional connectivity, and for investment from China (and the) US, Pakistan is the only linchpin. Afghans must understand this,” he claimed.
He reiterated that in the wake of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, Pakistan wanted bilateral relationships with America, but with a focus on “not what the US can give us, but what we can take from the US”.
Afghans should decide their own fate, adding that any terrorist activities in Afghanistan were not acceptable to Pakistan, he said.
President Biden in April announced that all American troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by September 11 this year, thus bringing to end the country's longest war, spanning across two decades.
The US and the Taliban signed a landmark deal in Doha on February 29, 2020 to bring lasting peace in war-torn Afghanistan and allow US troops to return home from America's longest war.
Under the US-Taliban pact, the US has agreed to withdraw all its soldiers from Afghanistan in 14 months.
There are currently 2,500 American troops left in Afghanistan, the lowest level of American forces in the war-torn country since 2001.
Since the US-led invasion that ousted the Taliban after the September 11, 2001 attacks, America has spent more than USD 1 trillion in fighting and rebuilding in Afghanistan.
About 2,400 US soldiers have been killed, along with tens of thousands of Afghan troops, Taliban insurgents and Afghan civilians. PTI SH CPS AKJ CPS