In the face of growing domestic public opinion that had started questioning the retional of fighting war in Afghanistan, President Barack Obama has announced a troops’s draw down plan that envisages pulling out ten thousand troops from Afghanistan this year, followed by twenty-three thousand more by the last quarter of 2012. But the plan has not gone well both in Pentagon that wanted slower withdrwal and Taliban who have termed it more symbolic devoid of any substantial impact.
So it is now Pakistan, not Afghanistan, where the United States is to fight its Afghan war. That clearly is the upshot of President Barack Obama’s Wednesday announcement of the plan for the US troops’ drawdown in Afghanistan. After asserting, albeit untenably, that the drawdown was beginning “from a position of strength”, he warned he would tolerate no terrorist safe havens in Pakistan. The implications are quite obvious. Henceforth, it is Pakistan which is to get most of the punishment for a war that the American commanders and their political bosses, along with their allies, have botched up so terribly in Afghanistan that not even the troop surge has palpably helped retrieve. In all likelihood, Pakistan is in for intensified US drone attacks and more ground raids in days ahead, particularly in its tribal areas, the North Waziristan Agency especially. President Obama may go lyrical about the surge having dented the Taliban insurgency. But that at best he could only self-interestedly. The objective ground realities definitely do not support his effusion at all. The surge may have led up to increased killings of insurgents; but insurgency has not diminished in any manner. The insurgents are fighting on unrelentingly, even daring the occupation forces in their fortified citadels, and also springing out of their strongholds in the south and the east to expand into the north and the west. The surge aimed at securing the major population centres. Two years down the road, the occupiers cannot claim credibly having secured even one in the insurgency-blighted region. Marjah they had touted up to be their showpiece of the surge’s success. Yet this cluster of villages they are holding fragilely by doling out dollars in big wads to local warlords to buy peace. Kandahar they claim to have brought under their thumb.
- History does not seem to have taught the American anything–neither the history of British and Soviet failures in Afghanistan, nor their own history. And now Afghanistan has every chance of becoming America’s Vietnam # 2 .
But it stays as turbulent as before, experiencing lethal insurgent strikes on targets including security establishments, regional police headquarters and intelligence offices. The city was also a witness to a major jail break that ended up in the flight of scores of insurgent commanders and fighters. Even the much-sung Taliban reintegration programme has come a cropper. Not even 2,000 gunmen have surrendered, whereas the occupiers estimate the insurgents numbering from 25,000 to 40,000. And, bewilderingly enough, the bulk of surrenders have occurred in the Tajik-dominated regions, raising the suspicions if these were genuine at all or mere fakery to get money and jobs. Same goes for the post-surge campaign for raising local police forces. This too has taken off mostly in the relatively peaceful northern and western parts, not in the troubled southern and eastern regions.Indeed, there is too much of perfidy about this drawdown. It is all dubious, to say the least. It may play well with Obama’s political objectives and his expediencies of the rerun for the presidency. But certainly help it would not in coping with the insurgency in Afghanistan. In any case, they have all through fought their Afghan war with lies, deceits and pretences, making a scapegoat of Pakistan for their ineptness and unwillingness to fight. Over these days, they are making much of Osama bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad. Doubtlessly, it is big slur on the face of Pakistani intelligence and law-enforcement agencies of being ignorant of his presence. But the key question is why was he free in the first place. Hadn’t the US-led invaders attacked Afghanistan to dismantle his terrorist network and capture him dead or alive? Why they failed in achieving this war objective of theirs? And if Afghan Taliban of Haqqani group and their al-Qaeda allies are holed up in North Waziristan, again the question is why had the invaders not corralled them in Afghanistan after the Taliban’s ouster and why had they let them sneak into the Pakistani territory? And how comes that the US drones that are so “unsparing” of al-Qaeda and Taliban terrorists on the Pakistani territory and are as yet to get any of some 100 al-Qaeda terrorists embedded, on the western strategists own assertions, with the Haqqani group inside Afghanistan? There indeed is too much of skullduggery to this drawdown. It may fit well with President Obama’s own goals. But it spells doom for Pakistan, notwithstanding a few customary platitudes he has thrown in here and there in his announcement, probably to soften up his stern warning, which he otherwise is sure to follow up, if only to look credible to his electorate, though not to cope with a war that the US-led occupiers have decidedly lost in Afghanistan.