Calling any wait-and-see approach on Afghanistan to be tantamount to abandonment, Pakistan called for a holding a major donor conference to formulate immediate humanitarian and economic relief plans for averting risks of instability and terror threat to the entire world. “A wait-and see approach, although more politically tenable for many countries, would be tantamount to abandonment. A starting point could be a major donor conference where regional players and Western countries sit together and draw up specific plans for immediate humanitarian and economic relief,” said Moeed Yusuf, Prime Minister’s National Security Advisor. In an article published in US-based journal Foreign Affairs Thursday, the NSA said President Joe Biden was right to end the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan and “today, Afghanistan faces a choice: it can either walk the arduous path of peace or revert to civil unrest. The latter will have catastrophic repercussions for the Afghan people and spillover effects for the neighborhood and beyond.” He said the spread of refugees, drugs, weapons, and transnational terrorism from a destabilized Afghanistan does not serve the interests of the Afghan people nor the rest of the world, most of all Pakistan. He said as Pakistan can and will assist in pushing Afghanistan in a positive direction, it alone cannot guarantee the outcomes we all desire. He said Pakistan does not wield any extraordinary influence over the new rulers in Kabul, as both monetary assistance and legitimacy for the Taliban can only come (or not) from the world’s major powers. “History will judge us very poorly if we do not create the most conducive possible environment to push them in a healthy direction—for the collective benefit of Afghans and the world.” He said any failure to do so will leave Pakistan to bear the brunt of any negative spillover from Afghanistan. “We have already carried more than our share of the burden,” he said referring to Pakistan’s sacrifices in US-led war on terror. Referring to Ashraf Ghani regime, he said it was clearly unable to sustain itself, and propping it up with billions more dollars would only have delayed its inevitable collapse. He said apart from the Afghan people, Pakistan has been the greatest victim of the wars in Afghanistan. The Soviet invasion in 1979 and the subsequent U.S.-led military campaign after 9/11 were not of Pakistan’s making. Yet our society, polity, and economy bore the brunt of the conflict over the last four decades. In 2001, he said Pakistan joined the U.S. war on terrorism against the very same actors who were hailed as freedom fighters when Washington and Islamabad together trained and backed them to defeat the Soviets in the 1980s. After the 9/11 attacks, the United States issued an ultimatum to Pakistan’s military dictator General Pervez Musharraf that he was either “with us or against us.” Under pressure, he provided the United States and its partners with virtually unconditional support, including access to our airbases, ground and air supply routes, and helped to arrest hundreds of members of al Qaeda. The post-9/11 decision to launch a military campaign against Afghanistan’s erstwhile freedom fighters, many of whom had deep cultural and ethnic affiliation with tribesmen in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border regions, resulted in a massive insurgency against the Pakistani state. “Over 50 militant groups sprang up, seeking to punish the Pakistani state for collaborating with the United States. They targeted our cities and massacred our children; 3.5 million civilians were displaced from their homes at the height of this onslaught. In the last 20 years, Pakistan has suffered over 80,000 casualties as a result of terrorist attacks, as well as over $150 billion in economic losses,” he stated. Moeed Yusuf said the cost of providing for Afghan civilians fleeing war in their home country has also largely fallen on Pakistan as the country hosted approximately four million Afghan refugees even today. Furthermore, Afghanistan’s chaos brought a “Kalashnikov culture” and narco-trafficking to Pakistan: our country’s addiction rates rose nearly 50 times. Yet, Western governments continued to accuse the Pakistani state of being duplicitous and asked us to “do more” to turn the tide of the war in Afghanistan. This disconnect colored the Pakistan-U.S. partnership for the better part of the last two decades. At its core, it stemmed from a divergence of views on how to end the war and bring peace to Afghanistan. “The United States’ solution was to achieve a total victory over the Taliban. Even when Washington began considering negotiations with the group, many American officials saw it as a means of creating internal fractures within the Taliban rather than negotiating an even-handed deal.” The NSA said the Pakistani government spoke hard truths to the United States about the folly of its plans. Pakistan urged the United States and its NATO allies to recognize that al Qaeda had been dealt a severe blow and that, even as Western powers continued their mission against international terrorist groups, they needed to recognize that the Taliban were a political reality in Afghanistan. A decade ago, when U.S. troop numbers were at their peak, Pakistan counselled using this leverage to negotiate an acceptable political settlement to the war. “Washington ignored this advice, and talks never became the principal pillar of U.S. strategy.” Yusuf said many Western governments turned a blind eye to their and the Afghan government’s failures, which were helping resuscitate the Taliban. Nevertheless, Pakistan engaged with the government in Kabul with sincerity of purpose. He said all of Pakistan’s requests were turned down, ignored, or actively resisted. For instance, as early as 2007 Afghan authorities physically tore down border biometric systems Pakistan was installing under the flimsy pretext that Afghanistan did not recognize the international border and was therefore opposed to physical controls.