Joseph Votel, US Army General, has said that Washington seeks Islamabad’s role in promoting peace dialogue in Islamabad. “We also need to see them continue to make efforts to compel the Taliban to come to the table and take advantage of these opportunities,” Votel said.
General Votel, while speaking at a press briefing, also said that even though he had seen positive signs from Pakistan, he still wanted Islamabad to do more to put more pressure on Pakistan-based militants fighting in Afghanistan.
He also said that the US would not make any big shift in military strategy as a result of an ongoing assessment of the war effort in Afghanistan. He said that the assessment was more of a regular assessment than a wholesale review and suggested that he expected it would confirm progress in the nearly 17-year-old war in the country. “I don’t envision something … that would likely lead to a major change in the overall strategy, which I believe is showing progress,” he said.
Officials in Washington have said that President Trump has shown signs of frustration over the lack of progress since he unveiled a strategy last August that committed to an open-ended deployment of US military advisers, trainers and special forces and increased air support for Afghan security forces. In this new policy, the US goal is to push the Taliban militants to join the dialogue process with the Afghan government.
As part of his election campaign promises, President Trump was initially opposed to remaining in America’s longest war, however his advisers convinced him to stay put. Following his decision to stay, he further authorized the deployment of an additional 3,000 US troops, taking the total number of troops to 15,000.
Trump has also recently piled pressure on Pakistan to crack down on militant safe havens in the border region. Even though Trump’s recent Afghanistan policy had somewhat created tensions between both Pakistan and the US, recent contacts between high level officials suggest that Washington might have softened its stance towards Islamabad.