Joe Biden’s actions will be felt most keenly in Kabul, but they pose a broader question for an army-dominated Pakistan
By bringing home US troops from Afghanistan, and leading Nato and allied forces out of the country, the US president, Joe Biden, is acting on his campaign trail argument that American “forever wars” distract from more pressing issues at home. While the effect of the withdrawal will be felt most keenly in Afghanistan, where there are justifiable fears that the Taliban are poised to reclaim power, the broader question Mr Biden poses is for neighbouring nuclear-armed Pakistan and the role that it wants to play in the region.
Bluntly, there is little trust between Washington and Islamabad despite Pakistan being a frontline state in America’s longest war. Mr Biden served as vice-president to Barack Obama, who in his memoir, A Promised Land, wrote that he had preferred not to involve Pakistan in the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in 2011 because it was an “open secret” that elements inside Pakistan’s military, and especially its intelligence services, “maintained links to the Taliban and perhaps even al-Qaida, sometimes using them as strategic assets to ensure that the Afghan government remained weak and unable to align itself with Pakistan’s number one rival, India”.