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  • Afghanistan-Pakistan: The Defining Wars

    The outcome of the fighting in Afghanistan and whether the coalition forces can prevent the Taliban from re-gaining influence there will largely determine how safe and secure civilized nations will remain from future terrorist attacks. Taliban terrorists and their al-Qaeda allies have stepped up attacks mostly in southern Afghanistan to test the mettle of NATO forces and to try to demonstrate to the Afghan people they remain a powerful force in the country. They have taken advantage of the Karzai government’s shortcomings and capitalized on the increase in civilian casualties from coalition military operations to press their agenda.

    In Pakistan’s tribal border areas, the Taliban and al-Qaeda have taken shelter, mainly in North and South Waziristan, and have forged working relationships with different Islamist extremist groups in the region to help protect themselves and keep Pakistan military forces at bay. U.S. Predator strikes in the area have recently been successful in eliminating several high profile terrorist targets, including Rashid Rauf, a suspect in the August 2006 London-Washington airliner bomb plot who had escaped from Pakistani custody in December 2007.

    The fact that U.S. sophisticated missile technology can better protect the world from a future catastrophic terrorist strike than a Pakistani security guard should not come as a surprise to anyone. But the fact is it will take more than technology to confront the terrorists in South Asia that still threaten our way of life and democratic ideals. It will take a concerted and multi-pronged effort that involves education, economic development, political reconciliation, and a close integration of U.S. policies toward Afghanistan and Pakistan. The naming of a high-level Pakistan-Afghanistan envoy by the Obama foreign policy team (as seems increasingly likely) would be welcome. This person will have to work hand-in-glove with CENTCOM Commander General Petraeus, just as Gen. Petraeus worked so effectively with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker to help stabilize the situation there.

    Disaggregating the enemy in Afghanistan and Pakistan is indeed important. But equally important is ensuring the U.S. and Pakistan agree on exactly who that enemy is. Part of the failure to defeat extremist forces in South Asia is due to Pakistan’s ambivalence toward religious militancy it has relied on in the past to achieve its aims in Afghanistan and India. While Pakistan’s military leadership increasingly comprehends that these extremists can easily get out of their control and pose an existential threat to Pakistan itself, they also lack a comprehensive, bold plan to face down the threat. The extremists, on the other hand, are clear on their vision, which in the short-term includes carving out a space in the tribal areas from which to plan and launch terrorist attacks. Developing an effective U.S.-Pakistan partnership to jointly address the threat will be one of the greatest challenges facing the new Obama administration.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to Afghanistan-Pakistan: The Defining Wars

    1. Christopher Szabo, South Africa says:

      I have been following the situation in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province for some time now, and I am concerned about the attitude in the above piece. It is made to look as if the Pakistani army is in essence, collaborating with the “bad guys”. However, it is important that the U.S. forces not alienate the local Pashun tribesmen, who have a very strong culture which neither the Moghuls nor even the British could break.
      Instead of shrugging of the Pak Army as a “security guard”, their achievements in the hearts and minds campaing since 2004, the success of drives in Bajaur and now Mohmand Agency of FATA should not be ignored.
      Clearly, they see the tribesmen as fellow Pakistanis, and are not in a rush to kill them.
      I deeply wish the West to win this war, but with this kind of attitude, I can’t be sure. I do hope Sir Gerald Templar’s attitude will be chosen instead.

      Sincerely,
      Chris Szabo
      Journalist
      Pretoria
      South Africa

    2. ALonzo Clark says:

      I agree with Mr. Szabo's insightful comments about employing unconventional tactics to win the war against Muslim fanaticism in Pakistan. As he suggests, someone like Sir Gerald Templar must be put in charge of this effort to develop a unique and innovative strategy to win the hearts and minds of the various Pashun tribes and convince them that terrorism will not serve their cause. However, Sir Gerald Templar employed food as a weapon (crops grown by the communists he was fighting were sprayed with herbicide) and was quoted as saying, "I'll shoot the bastard who says that this Emergency is over" would probably not fly in this day and age.

      The “surge” in Iraq orchestrated by Gen. Petraeus was quite successful and one hopes his unique philosophy of working with the local people can be applied equally as effectively in Pakistan.

    3. Mike, Hickory, NC says:

      Considering the Leftist/Socialist totalitarian agenda of Obama & Co., and, on the part of all of parties mentioned above, the historical and systemic absence of, and now both covert and overt hostility toward, what our Founding Fathers (specifically Thomas Jefferson, and others) defined and founded as a truly "Representative Republic" with a "Republican form of government", (a.k.a. what is described above by others as "democratic ideals)", such gives everything from Obama & Co to Islamo-fascist terrorists, and those who actively or passively harbor them, a similarly totalitarian/government elitist tendency to "agree" more than disagree" to start with, as in "Blame America first", etc, and all the Leftist/Totalitarian drivel with which they follow that.

      Therefore, don't expect what would have to be miracles against that Leftist/Totalitarian grain from any of them, including "the new Obama Administration" and any of their both pretentious and blindly gullible Neville Chamberlain-like efforts for, or even declarations of, “peace in our time”, which have been, and, so very predictably, will be accompanied by our Totalitarian enemies with anything other than “peace”, and worse, including otherwise unnecessary wars.

    4. Lorna Salem Oregon says:

      I am deeply concerned about the 'why' so many of our armed service young men and women are appearingly only a number (#) to those in office in Washington DC. My son, who is definitely not prepared (has many issues) and should never be sent over. The ones who do the recuiting need to be taught truthfulness, not coersion, using money as the tempter. There will be blood on the heads of many of those who have chosen to cover up the emotionally and physically handicapped 'recruits' just to get their 'numbers' fulfilled. I am thoroughly ashamed of our government and those we have chosen to represent our best interests. They are living a dual life and need accountability. Unfortunately too many lives will be taken before that takes place.

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