The Afghanistan war may be lost in a home-grown insurgency hit Pakistan unless US takes some 'game-changing steps' including talks on an India like civil nuclear deal, suggests a US think tank.
'The Afghanistan war may be lost on the battlefields of Pakistan, where a vicious conflict is now being fought by Pakistan against a home-grown insurgency spawned by the war across its Western frontier,' said the Atlantic Council of the United States in a report released Monday.
Nothing the the US and Pakistan appear to have different objectives, the report 'Pakistan in the Danger Zone' by Shuja Nawaz, director of the council's South Asia Centre said: 'The US is looking for a safe military exit out of a stabilised Afghanistan while ensuring that Al Qaeda does not re-emerge.
Pakistan, on the other hand, 'seeks to secure its own territory against an active home-grown insurgency, while keeping a wary eye on India to its east'.
Thus, 'unless some game-changing steps are taken by both sides, the US-Pakistan relationship may also be heading into another serious downturn, marked by continuing mistrust and a disconnect between the public posturing and private dialogues,' it argued.
'The biggest game changer in terms of public perception will be discussion of an energy-oriented civilian nuclear deal with Pakistan that will treat it on par with neighbour India,' it said.
At the same time, removal of US pressure against an Iran-Pakistan oil pipeline that could be extended to India would be seen as a positive step toward helping the US' friends in South Asia,' the think tank argued.
'The US should also use its new status as a strategic partner of both India and Pakistan to bring the two neighbours together to pick up on the resolution of solvable disputes while reducing tensions on issues that may require more time to mature,' it said.
Unless the US and Pakistan 'better understand each other's concerns and intentions, and work together honestly and openly to resolve difficulties, 'the loss of Afghanistan may be overshadowed by a Western break-up with Pakistan and that may well portend a collapse of the fledgling political system inside Pakistan,' the report warned.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)