America’s recent policy on Afghanistan reiterates old views. Trump’s policy is as the saying goes, the same old wine in a new bottle – only that the packaging is a bit fragile this time and the bottle can shatter into pieces any time soon. In a sense, it’s the timeworn mantra of “do more” of the pre-Waziristan operation. How much more would be enough to satisfy the super-huge ego of the new US president remains undetermined. While the US frustration regarding the war in Afghanistan is understandable, it will be intriguing to see how Pakistan responds to the new geo-strategic challenge. Mr. Trump who is new in the office needs a lesson in history. If the Great Britain couldn’t win Afghanistan after three destructive wars spanning over a century, how could the USdo so in merely three or four presidential terms? Meanwhile, the hard and bitter reality is that after 16 years of military engagement, about 3000 US causalities, and well over 800 billion dollars spending, more than one third of the Afghan territory is still under the Taliban control; the country continues to be the largest producer of opium; and the tribal-cum-ethnic differences show no sign of dissipating. Mr. Trump’s plan clearly overlooks Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war on terror, its selflessness to host more than three million Afghan refugees for well over three decades, and its concerns with regard to India’s role in the whole issue. It’s natural for Pakistan to reassess its policies a and come up with a pragmatic and result-oriented strategy for the future. An ideal way to solve an intractable issue would be to start at the very beginning. That’s to say, how it all started in the first place; how it evolved over time; and, how to reverse the wheel of time to bring forth the desired results in its final conclusion? The first policy decision that Pakistan is most likely to take may concern the Afghan nationals living on its soil. Frankly speaking, a great majority of them are economic refugees, whom not even Mr. Trump would welcome in his homeland. As recent events suggest, they aren’t only a security threat but also a liability in socio-economic terms. A country faced with a host of domestic issues cannot afford the economic burden of supporting more refugees. There’s a simple formula to cope with the problem. It is necessary to come up with a level ofeconomic investment for those who’re interested to stay in Pakistan peacefully and don’t pose a threat to their own country. There shouldn’t be any more deadline extensions either – like the one the former PM Nawaz Sharif announced last November when the repatriation process was in full swing. The hard and bitter reality is that after 16 years of military engagement, about 3000 US causalities, and well over 800 billion dollars spending, more than one third of the Afghan territory is still under the Taliban control The second step is to involve friendly countries like China, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. Chinaalready came to Pakistan’s aid soon after Mr. Trump’s address. And Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi left for the KSA on Wednesday to drum up support for his country. With tact and diplomacy, Central Asian states, as well as Iranand Turkey’s support could be sought, which will assist in tilting the regional equilibrium in Pakistan’s favour. If things really go downhill, it can also involve Russia more proactively as a last resort. After all, if the US could defeat the Soviet Union with the help of Pakistan, the reverse could also happen. The spadework in this respect has already been done. All that would be necessary is a little push to build on what has already been achieved. Pakistan also needs to speed up border fencing and implement strict border regime on the western front. Strategically, it’s more important than theEastern border, given the American presence. While the Torkham Pass is by and large secure now, there’s a need to take steps for the Chaman crossing point. Last but not the least, the supply lines to Afghanistan should now strictly be monitored by a state institution that has the full capability and expertise to evaluate the strategic implications for the country in the short or long term. The overall aim should be that no military hardware passes through its territory that could be used against it at some point in time. The fact is the Afghan mess is not of Pakistan’s making. If anything, it’s the result of the Cold War rivalry between the super powers of the 1960s, the USSR and the US. If there’s one country that has suffered most due to the instability in Afghanistan, it’s Pakistan. By inviting India to play a role, the US has not only desecrated the memory of 70,000 Pakistani martyrs but also the entire nation of 200 million. The writer is a freelance columnist. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, August 25th 2017.