Cutting Off Pakistan, U.S. Takes Gamble in Complex Afghan War

Cutting Off Pakistan, U.S. Takes Gamble in Complex Afghan War by Mujib Mashal and Salmon Masood – New York Times

Afghan officials have pleaded with several United States administrations now to reconsider their support for Pakistan, which was both receiving billions of dollars in American aid and harboring on its soil the leaders of a Taliban insurgency that the Americans have struggled to defeat.

But when President Trump suspended nearly all American security aid to Pakistan on Thursday for what he has called the country’s “lies and deceit,” any jubilation in the halls of power in Afghanistan — and there was some — was leavened with worries over how the move might affect a complex war that has pushed the Afghan government to the brink.

If there is one consensus among Afghan leaders and their American counterparts, it is that dealing with Pakistan is both vital and difficult.

American and Afghan officials accuse Pakistan’s powerful military intelligence service of maintaining influence with the Taliban and the group’s most ascendant faction, the Haqqani network, which is behind many of the large-scale attacks on Afghan cities. Through those links, Pakistan has the ability to control at least some of the tempo of the fighting in Afghanistan — and it has done little to constrain it over the past two years, the officials say.

At the same time, Pakistan enjoys leverage over the American military response to that militant violence: The United States mission has always relied on Pakistani air and ground routes for supplies to the troops in Afghanistan.

The question on the table after the cutoff of military aid to Pakistan is who will be most disrupted: the Pakistanis or the coalition fighting the Taliban…

Read on.

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