- And where it leaves Pakistan
US President Donald Trump has cancelled his meeting at Camp David on Sunday with Taliban representatives about to make a deal that would have allowed the withdrawal of some US forces and allowed it to declare the end of what is about to become a 20-year War. President characteristically announced this decision in a Tweet, and also cancelled the peace talks with the Taliban. The main reason he gave was the suicide car bomb attack on Thursday, which led to the killing of a US ‘service member’. Four of the 16 deaths of US service members have come recently. This latest death does make nonsense of one of the main parts of the peace agreement, which was a ceasefire. The Taliban may not like the idea of the USA withdrawing its forces in good order, but just as the USA has failed to defeat them in battle, the Taliban have not obtained as much of a victory over the US forces as to precipitate a disorderly and precipitate attempt to save all that they can.
One of the imponderables that the Taliban will have to deal with, is the knowledge President Trump’s decisions cannot be trusted in diplomacy, especially when he tweets upon them. It might well be that President Trump has acted in a fit of pique at Thursday’s attack, and will later want to come back to the negotiating table. It should be remembered that the reason for leaving it is the death of US troops, which is the same reason he wanted to leave Afghanistan in the first place.
Two governments seem to have been affected. The Afghan government has not even bothered to conceal its glee, for it feared that a US-Taliban deal would have meant the beginning of the end for it. The Pakistan government has apparently not commented, but it had expected great things from the revived US need for it as the facilitator of the talks, which had brought the Taliban to the negotiating table. None of those things had been realised so far, and there is a danger that there might be the undignified sight of Pakistan falling over itself to get the USA back to the table. Pakistan should not forget that the USA only started the talks because it found it could not win. It is that realisation that may make it talk again.