Ahead of a maiden bilateral meet between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden, a former national security official in the Trump Administration's pushed for greater counter-terrorism coordination with India on Afghanistan and reevaluation of its reliance on Pakistan in the matter.
Lisa Curtis, the director of the Indo-Pacific Security Program at the Centre for a New American Security think tank, opined that although it is too late to penalise Pakistan, US should learn from 20 years of intransigence and maintain low expectations from Islamabad when it comes to counter-terrorism cooperation.
Since 2001, no US administration has been able to successfully convince Pakistan to crack down on Taliban activity inside its territory, she wrote in the periodical Foreign Affairs.
Former President Donald Trump, for his part, suspended US military assistance in January 2018, but Islamabad still failed to disrupt the group's operational activity, financial transactions, or cross-border flows of weapons and fighters, Curtis said.
"It may be possible for Washington to work with Islamabad when targeting other terrorist groups such as ISIS-K, the Islamic State's Afghanistan offshoot. But Pakistan's intelligence service will never turn on the al Qaeda–linked Haqqani network.
"Pakistani military and intelligence leaders rely on the latter to deny India a foothold in Afghanistan," she wrote in the periodical.
Instead, the Biden administration should refocus its efforts on coordination with other regional democracies, especially India. For too long, Washington eschewed the idea of counter-terrorism cooperation with New Delhi out of deference to Pakistan, Curtis said.
"With that policy in tatters, the United States must realise that it has far more to gain by coordinating with democratic states that fight terrorism than by fruitlessly trying to work with regimes that rely on terrorist proxies to achieve regional objectives," she argued.
"India already is playing a helpful role at the UN Security Council, where it is currently serving a two-year term as a non-permanent member. As UNSC president, India introduced a strong resolution on Afghanistan in August that called for combating terrorism, upholding human rights, and encouraging an inclusive political settlement with full, equal, and meaningful participation by women."
"Although the US leaned heavily on Pakistani leaders to facilitate peace talks, statements from officials in Islamabad as the Taliban entered Kabul were revealing. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that the group 'had broken the shackles of slavery, while his special assistant tweeted that 'the contraption that the US had pieced together for Afghanistan has crumbled like the proverbial house of cards," Curtis said.
Washington, Curtis noted, needs to reevaluate its reliance on Pakistan as its key partner on issues related to Afghanistan. This was another mistake during talks with the Taliban, she wrote in the magazine.