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Pakistan Pushes Karzai to Drop U.S. as Ally, Turn to China

Published: April 27, 2011
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Source: Atlantic

The Wall Street Journal is reporting this morning that Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had a message for Afghan President Hamid Karzai when he met with him in Kabul earlier this month: Want to make peace with the Taliban and revive your economy? Partner with us and our ally, China, not the U.S.

The Journal has learned that Gilani (pictured with Karzai above, during their April 16 meeting) informed Karzai that the Americans had failed both countries and that Afghanistan shouldn't allow the U.S., with its "imperial designs," to maintain a military presence in the country for an extended period.

The meeting took place only days after The New York Times ran a story about how Pakistan's military chief wanted CIA agents to leave his country and U.S. drone strikes along the border with Afghanistan to cease. The Journal notes that Pakistan's lobbying efforts represent "the clearest sign to date" that, with U.S.-led coalition troops expected to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, "tensions between Washington and Islamabad threaten to scuttle America's prospects of ending the conflict on its own terms." The paper adds that Pakistan may be in a better position to influence a post-American Afghanistan than other neighbors because of its support for the Afghan Taliban. Karzai, who doesn't enjoy a particularly warm relationship with either the U.S. or Pakistan, is "wavering on Pakistan's overtures," according to the Journal.

How did the Journal find out about Galani's comments in the first place? The paper explains that Karzai advisors who favor a long-term strategic partnership with the U.S. shared details in order to urge the U.S. to hammer out a post-2014 deal with Afghanistan more quickly.

The Journal report isn't the only sign of tensions today between the U.S. and Afghanistan. While it's not clear how the incident started, an argument between an Afghan military pilot and NATO trainers turned deadly at an airport in Kabul on Wednesday. The pilot opened fire on international trainers, killing six International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops and a contractor, according to NATO. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, but NATO disputes the claim.

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