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2,248 military personel died in Afghanistan since 2001: US Defence Dept

03 April, 2017

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WASHINGTON: The US Department of Defence announced on Saturday that at least 2,248 members of its military had died in Afghanistan since 2001 while a total of 4,520 had been killed in Iraq since 2003. The statistics would be another cause of concern for the Trump administration, which has vowed to reduce US war losses and is busy reviewing policy for the Pak-Afghan region.

The administration, however, seems to be aware of the limitations of the military solution and that’s why its new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said that reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Taliban is its ultimate goal.

In this, diplomatic observers in Washington see an opportunity for Pakistan because the country can still play a role in expediting reconciliation process.

At his first public engagement in Washington the other day, Pakistan’s new ambassador to the United States referred to this role and offered a five-point formula for restoring peace in Afghanistan, depicting a negotiated settlement as the only viable option.

Ambassador Aizaz Chaudhary said at the US Institute of Peace that while the Trump administration was reviewing its policy for the Pak-Afghan region, Pakistan had received positive vibes.

The formula he presented included five key points: no military solution; better relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan; better border management; repatriation of Afghan refugees; and taking forward the reconciliation process.

Elaborating on the points, he said that all the sides needed to have more faith in their skills and that only talks could resolve the issues. War was not an answer.

The Afghan government should stop blaming Pakistan for all its problems, he said, because this was over-simplification of the issues.

The Pak-Afghan border has remained ungoverned for centuries. Mr Chaudhary said that Afghans blamed Pakistanis for allowing the Taliban to cross into Afghanistan while Pakistan had similar complaints. A better-managed border could end these accusations and counter-accusations.

The ambassador said a recent effort by the Quadrilateral Coordination Group, in which the United States, China and Pakistan also participated as facilitators, was a good move but failed to achieve its target. Yet, the reconciliation process must continue.

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