The establishment of Afghan Taliban's Qatar office was officially met with jubilation in Pakistan. The mantra is that direct peace negotiations between Taliban and US will lead to ‘peace and stability’ in the region following US withdrawal. With uncertainty prevailing, Qatar process, there is a need in Pakistan to understand the overall strategic picture before jumping to unrealistic conclusions of peace and stability.

First, peace and stability in the region, particularly Pakistan, is directly linked to US presence in Afghanistan. As long as this presence remains, peace will remain an illusion. Second, the US will undergo a partial or limited withdrawal from Afghanistan and not a complete one. The thinking within Washington is to retain nine military bases with 15 to 20 thousand US troops.

Third, the US is in a process of ‘negotiating’ a bilateral security arrangement with puppet Karzai regime that will replace existing SPA and instituionalize US presence for the next decade. The US is using these negotiations with the Taliban to achieve its post 2014 strategic reconfiguration along with a pliant political dispensation in Kabul.

For Pakistan, implications are clear: the US will be enabled to carry out military operations inside Pakistan should it choose to do so and will be a challenge for overall Pakistan's regional position.

The Abbotabad Commission report is apt in its conclusion: the US through its intentions and actions has demonstrated that it represents a national security threat on Pakistan's western frontiers rather than an ally.

Supporting any peace process in Afghanistan under US auspices will challenge Pakistan's security, sovereignty and the region at large

MAJID MAHMOOD,

Islamabad, July 15.