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13 Oct, 2009 00:43

“US troops in Afghanistan help stabilize Pakistan”

The main reason behind the American military presence in Afghanistan is to help stabilize Pakistan, Reihan Salam from the New America Foundation told RT.

As the White House contemplates sending more troops to Afghanistan, the situation in neighboring Pakistan becomes more tense. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for a massive attack on the country's army headquarters on the weekend that ended in a hostage crisis.

Reihan Salam supports the mission in Afghanistan and is in favor of sending more troops to the Islamic Republic.

“If you look at the historical experience, the United States has a real opportunity to create a stable Afghanistan, and a stable Afghanistan will help guarantee a stable South Asia and Central Asia,” he says.

The big political reason why both Presidents Bush and Obama have argued for a US presence in Afghanistan “is about preventing a safe heaven for the al-Qaida".

However, the main reason for the US troops to be there is to help stabilize Pakistan, Reihan Salam believes.

“What the US is trying to do now, closely resembles what the Soviet Union tried to do in the late 80s and early 1990s,” he said.

Reihan Salam thinks that President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize is unlikely to affect the decision about sending more troops to the region, but it’s the political dynamics that might influence the decision.

“Among Democrats…there is very little support for the military surge in Afghanistan and among Republicans support is actually dwindling over time,” Reihan Salam said.

So, he went on, the easiest way for Obama would be “to try to save face and not increase the number of troops”.

“Unfortunately, that will likely lead to higher US casualties and thus increase calls for a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan over the longer term,” he said.