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Editorial: US and Afghan war

Afghan war has not been outlined as core issue by the two US presidential candidates—Republican Party nominee Donald Trump and Democrat Party nominee Hillary Clinton. Business tycoon Donald Trump is the President-elect of the United States who will take office next year. The win comes as a surprise for many Afghans. The war-hit nation has no favorite in the US elections because they are caught deep inside by internal issues and meddling of neighboring countries in Afghanistan. However, the nation knew well about importance of the elections and its effects on the country, though for both the nominees Afghan war has become a forgotten issue with less popularity and support at home.

Afghans know that change of faces seldom results in policies shift at government level. The nation which is worst victim of terrorism and foreign imposed war has experienced this. From former Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to current premier Nawaz Sharif, Afghans have not seen any shift in Islamabad’s policies toward Kabul. Strategic depth has been kept alive by all the heads of the neighboring states. Therefore, Afghan people had not pinned hopes on any of the two US presidential nominees. They also believed that terming any of the candidates as favorite would be interference in affairs of a sovereign state.

But there is no denying that Afghans are looking forward for changes in the US counter-terrorism strategies. The US forces have rendered many sacrifices in the war against terrorism. They helped Afghans. Thus, there is no second opinion that Afghans have respect for the US people and troops. However, Afghans are also disappointed by the US friendly relations with countries that support terrorist groups as strategic assets. Afghan leaders and people repeatedly urged the Bush and Obama administrations to eliminate hideouts of extremist groups in the region, but they paid no heed.

As Trump has emerged victorious, therefore, he should overhaul the US policies on terrorism. To win hearts and minds of Afghans, first he should assure the war-hit nation that they would not be abandoned at this critical juncture. Second, the newly-elected president should impose economic and military sanctions against those countries who are support militant groups to destabilize the South Asia, especially Afghanistan. Third, the president-elect—after taking the office—should direct the relevant US authorities to provide modern military hardware to Afghan security forces so they could defend the country against aggressors. Last but not least, the new administration should show soft corner to Afghan asylum seekers. Many young Afghan interpreters are facing serious threats because they served the US forces in the country. They should be facilitated to give the message that the US would not abandon Afghans.

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