Pakistan may prefer weak Afghanistan over a strong and unified state: US report

Washington, Sept 20 : Pakistan may view a weak and destabilised Afghanistan as preferable to a strong and unified Afghan state, a latest US Congressional report has said. It asserted that Islamabad may also anticipate that improved relations with Kabul could limit India’s influence in the region.

“Pakistan sees Afghanistan as potentially providing strategic depth against India. Pakistan may also view a weak and destabilised Afghanistan as preferable to a strong, unified Afghan state (particularly one led by a Pashtun-dominated government in Kabul),” the bipartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) said in its latest report on Afghanistan has said.

According to the report ‘Afghanistan: Background and US Policy In Brief’, some Pakistani leaders have stated that instability in Afghanistan could rebound to Pakistan’s detriment. Pakistan has struggled with indigenous Islamist militants of its own, it said.

CRS reports are not an official view of the Congress but are prepared periodically by independent experts on hot topics so that lawmakers can make informed decisions.

“While military officials profess greater optimism about the course of the war in 2018, other policy makers and analysts have described the war against the insurgency (which controls or contests nearly half of the country’s territory, by Pentagon estimates) as a stalemate,” the report said.

Authored by Clayton Thomas, an analyst in Middle Eastern Affairs, the CRS report, dated September 17, said President Donald Trump in his Afghanistan policy last year has sought a greater role for India in Afghanistan.

“In his speech, President Trump also encouraged India to play a greater role in Afghan economic development; this, along with other administration messaging, has compounded Pakistani concerns over Indian activity in Afghanistan,” it said.

“India has been the largest regional contributor to Afghan reconstruction, but New Delhi has not shown an inclination to pursue a deeper defence relationship with Kabul. Afghans themselves may be divided on the wisdom of cultivating stronger ties with India,” the CRS report said.

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