Pakistan said Thursday that the United States must remain engaged in Afghanistan’s reconstruction even if it succeeds in withdrawing troops and ending its longest war.
Pakistan’s foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, was visiting Washington where he is set to speak to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the growing momentum toward a deal between the United States and the Taliban.
Qureshi warned the United States not to return to neglect of Afghanistan, as seen after 1989 when Soviet troops pulled out under pressure from Islamic guerrillas backed by Washington and Islamabad.
“Do not repeat the ’80s,” Qureshi said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on the eve of his talks with Pompeo.
“Even if there is a successful agreement, challenges will remain there, so the United States and its friends and coalition partners will have to have a more responsible withdrawal,” he said.
“They should remain engaged — not to fight, but to rebuild,” he said.
The United States returned to Afghanistan in 2001 in an invasion to out the Taliban, whose extremist regime welcomed Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the September 11 attacks.
President Donald Trump is eager to remove the more than 12,000 US troops remaining in Afghanistan, seeing the war as no longer worth its cost.
The Taliban, in their latest negotiations with the United States in Doha, have proposed a brief ceasefire in hopes of building momentum to a deal.
Pakistan was the main backer of the former Taliban regime and maintains contacts.
Qureshi says he has seen a willingness from the Taliban to reduce the violence.
“They are pragmatic and not foolish. They are also fatigued,” he said at the event in Washington.