US should adopt policy of total isolation against Pakistan: former American diplomat

File photo of Zalmay Khalilzad. Photograph:( Getty )

PTI Washington, United States Jun 29, 2016, 06.55 AM (IST)
The US should adopt a policy of "total isolation" against Pakistan to send a signal that it faces the prospect of becoming a "second North Korea" if it continues destabilising Afghanistan by supporting the Taliban and Haqqani network, a former top American diplomat has said.

"In the aftermath of the US drone attack killing Taliban leader Mullah Mansour, this is the time to increase the pressure by suspending all assistance to Pakistan -- military and civilian -- and move towards isolating Pakistan internationally, including not supporting IMF renewal of financial support," Zalmay Khalilzad, a former top American diplomat in the Bush Administration, told PTI.

Khalilzad, who played a key role America's policy towards Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq after 9/11 terror attack, said the US should adopt a policy of "total isolation" against Pakistan.

Such a policy, he argued would send a signal to Pakistan that it faces the prospect of becoming a "second North Korea" unless it changes its course on Afghanistan.

Khalilzad was the highest ranking Muslim American in the history of the United States. He was the US ambassador to the United Nations under former president George W Bush.

He also served as the US ambassador to Afghanistan and headed the country's diplomatic mission in Iraq.

"If Pakistan truly changes course, then the US should be willing to be supportive in a significant way. But we have to substantially escalate the cost of Pakistan's hostile policy in Afghanistan," he said.

Khalilzad also called for retaining the current level of forces in Afghanistan and more flexible rules of engagement for US forces until the next President reviews the situation in Afghanistan and decides on a new policy.

"While there are some potential risks in isolating Pakistan, there are real risks with continuing the current course in Afghanistan and Pakistan," he said and called for having a contingency plan to deal with the nuclear scenario risks.

"In fact (US forces) being in Afghanistan would help in addressing such challenges promptly," he said.

"The choice we have made hasn't really worked for the last 15 years in terms of changing Pakistan's two-faced policy. The time has come to adjust that policy. In my view a better option is international isolation of Pakistan," Khalilzad argued.

"The role that Pakistan has played....Is that of a double game. It has signalled on the one hand that it wants to be helpful to the United States in fighting terrorism and stabilising Afghanistan. But on the other hand, in reality, it has been energetically supporting the Taliban and the Haqqani network to achieve the very opposite. That has been the essence of the Pakistan policy on Afghanistan," he said.

Noting that Pakistan's Afghan policy is determined by the Army and the ISI, Khalilzad said that the reason for such a policy is that they believe that by supporting the Taliban and the Haqqani network, they can achieve the goal of dominating Afghanistan.

"An alternative explanation is that the status quo of an unstable Afghanistan with ongoing fighting, in which they have relationship with the Taliban and the Haqqani network and key players, is seen by Pakistan as favorable to its interests.

"In my view they want peace and stability in Afghanistan only if the country is controlled by a group, such as the Taliban and the Haqqani network which they control or have strong influence over," he claimed.

"Pakistan is the landlord and the Taliban is living in the house that Pakistan owns. This gives them huge leverage. Actually the relationship is even stronger than a landlord and tenant. It is one of sponsor and sponsorees," he said.

Currently, chairman of the Atlantic Council's South Asia Center's advisory board, and president of Gryphon Partnerson, Khalilzad will deliver a talk on his new book 'The Envoy: From Kabul to the White House, My Journey Through a Turbulent World' at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi on July 1.