On the Road to disengagement? Envisioning a long-term strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan

The situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan is alarming. In Afghanistan, the planned 2014 withdrawal of international troops is likely to usher in civil war. Nuclear-armed Pakistan is shaken by repeated cycles of social, political, and economic crises. Despite these daunting challenges, the US and its European allies have yet to formulate a coherent, long-term strategy for their engagement in South Asia after international forces’ pull-out from Afghanistan. Lasting stability can be achieved only through political conflict-resolution and social change. Accomplishing these objectives requires a multi-level strategy for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the larger region. Such a strategy should prioritize a political solution for the conflicts in Afghanistan and Kashmir, support for moderate parties and local ownership, and strengthen initiatives for regional cooperation. However, implementing such an ambitious multi-level strategy will be possible only if policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic can convince their constituencies that continued engagement in the region is in their long-term interest.

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