As the US prepares to withdraw most of its troops from Afghanistan by 2014, Afghanistan's neighbors are jockeying for increased influence—most notably Pakistan, which is blatantly lobbying Hamid Karzai to ditch the US. Rather than allow a long-term American military presence in Afghanistan, Pakistani PM Yousuf Raza Gilani suggested at an April 16 meeting, Karzai should partner with Pakistan and its ally China. While Pakistan is ostensibly a US ally, current relations are poor, the Wall Street Journal notes.
Pakistan, not the US, should help Afghanistan forge a peace deal with the Taliban and rebuild the nation's economy, Gilani said at the Kabul meeting. Sources say Karzai is indecisive and has both pro- and anti-American factions whispering in his ear. The longer the US waits to secure a long-term relationship, "the more time Pakistan has to secure its interests," one official warns. To that end, Gen. David Petraeus has met with Karzai three times since April 16, partially to inch forward on a deal. Pakistan denies the Journal story, telling Reuters it's " the most ridiculous report we have come across." (Read more Afghanistan stories.)