US Senator Lindsey Graham has been known for his advocacy of a strong national defense and aggressive interventionist foreign policy. However, his changing opinion on Pakistan and Afghanistan indicates that the superpower country desperately wants to cut its losses in Afghanistan.
In a press conference during his visit to Pakistan in January this year, the US senator had agreed with Imran Khan’s view that the end to Afghan crisis was possible only through negotiation. “The war in Afghanistan will end through reconciliation with the Taliban,” he had said.
His this change of heart of talking about negotiated settlement to the Afghan war was opposite to what he believed in December last year.
During his visit to the war-torn country in December, Graham had said, “The (ISIS) threat in Afghanistan is far greater than I thought it was. If you get a peace agreement tomorrow between the Taliban and the Afghan government, that will not solve the threat to our homeland.”
While after that in Pakistan, he had said that he would ask President Donald Trump to meet with the leadership of Pakistan and Afghanistan to end Afghanistan’s 17-year war.
Now that Imran Khan has met Donald Trump, in which the latter has sought help from the former to resolve Afghan war, Graham has big role in this engagement. He himself had a separate meeting with the prime minister.
Tweeting about the meeting, he said he had a great time with the PM of Pakistan.
“In my opinion he and his government represent the best opportunity in decades to have a beneficial strategic relationship the US. This will help us secure Afghanistan and the region long-term.”
The US senator also spoke about existence of tremendous business opportunities between Pakistan and the US. He advocated for a free trade agreement “to our mutual security interests”.
“It’s also our best chance in decades to reset the relationship between the US and Pakistan,” he tweeted.
The ruling party’s diplomacy seems to have worked and Pakistan ostensibly is now in a dominant position against India in Afghanistan as the US tends to believe that its complete willingness could bring peace in Afghanistan and end the America’s longest military engagement.
“Peace with honor and dignity in Afghanistan is only possible with the complete buy in of Pakistan.
“It is now time for the United States to have a strategic relationship with Pakistan, which is best achieved by a free trade agreement tied to security performance,” wrote Lindsey Graham in a tweet.
According to an article published in TRT World, Donald Trump is the driving force behind thaw in Graham’s opinion about Afghan war. Trump wants to withdraw military troops from overseas conflicts. He sees spending on war in weak proxy states like Afghanistan and Syria as wastage of time and money. Graham seems to have espoused Trump’s tendencies in this regard.
It may be noted that while Trump was running the presidential campaign before getting elected, Graham was among those Republican leaders who opposed him in this race.
In spite of all, Trump’s convincing the senator to talk about peace instead of war is nothing short of a miracle.