WASHINGTON: The biggest failure of the United States in Afghanistan is its inability to persuade Afghanistan and Pakistan to cooperate, says the former US ambassador to Kabul, Zalmay Khalilzad.
In an interview to Voice of America, broadcast this weekend, Mr Khalilzad described the Pak-Afghan tension as “the mother of all problems” in the Pak-Afghan region.
“The two countries need each other and they should cooperate,” said the Afghanistan-born scholar.
The United States did not succeed in bringing Afghanistan and Pakistan together after 9/11 and it had not succeeded still. “This is going on so many years later. And I think this is the mother, in my view, of the problems of Afghanistan.”
Mr Khalilzad said the main reason why the United States could not achieve more in Afghanistan was because Pakistan created sanctuaries for the Taliban.
“I was the first administration official at that level to say a ‘sanctuary’ was being developed,” said the former US diplomat, regretting that nobody believed him then but “now, if you say that no one would challenge that.”
Pakistan has consistently denied that it allows militant groups to organise and plot attacks from its territory.
The VOA report also included results of a recent survey of Afghan public opinion conducted by VOA’s parent organisation, the Broadcasting Board of Governors and the Gallup news agency. The survey showed that Afghan citizens have a very low opinion of Pakistan. The respondents gave Pakistan a favourability rating of 3.7 per cent — the bottom of the list — faring even worse than the militant Islamic State group, which received a 5.8 favourability rating.