Afghanistan remains an unwinnable quagmire draining resources of the United States
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Despite the official claims of making progress as given in Obama‘s strategic review, it is apparent that no meaningful or positive strategic results have been achieved by the United States. Afghanistan remains an unwinnable quagmire draining resources of the United States and its allies. Many analysts now emphasise that staying course, committing larger force, applying more pressure and escalating military operations aren‘t solution, on the contrary, they have made situation from bad to worse as we have entered the tenth year of this useless and avoidable war. Two new US classified intelligence reports offer a bleak assessment and say there are limited chances of success unless Pakistan achieves rapid success in Waziristan and thereafter sustains it for at least 4 years till 2014. Military leaders of Pakistan think that the US is finding scapegoats and they are fully aware that Pakistan is not in a position to commit further troops as it would lead to strategic imbalance and political backlash in Pakistan that could further destabilize the country. They further argue that US -NATO -Afghan control is limited to some cities and Taliban still control more than 70% of Afghan landmass and all that cannot be attributed to the sanctuaries in North Waziristan..
More important still are the perceptions of the ordinary people of Pakistan. They are averse to the idea of taking the battle to North Waziristan as in their view launching of military operations by Pakistan Army would have serious ramifications politically, economically and may lead to degradation of Pakistan Army and that may lead to uncontrollable destabilization and anarchy. They further reiterate that Pakistan has lost more innocent citizens and soldiers than all the allies put together and that includes the innocent lives lost in 9/11.
More realistic assessment by experts and strategists however postulate that it is a totally unwinnable situation as the freedom fighters no matter what you label them Taliban‘s, Al Qaida, Pashtuns. or Islamists or Fundamentalists want nothing short of liberation. Negotiated settlement ending with a total withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan is the only solution. ―Senior American military commanders in Afghanistan‖ are pushing for the Obama administration to approve frequent ground raids into 3 Pakistani tribal areas, where, according to Washington, Al Qaeda leaders have sanctuaries. It is an open secret that the US is conducting what the Times article calls ―America's clandestine war in Pakistan,‖ but that war has largely consisted of missile attacks from CIA-operated pilotless drones carried out in border regions.
These attacks have killed thousands of Pakistanis, overwhelmingly civilians. They have been dramatically stepped up by the Obama administration. The has been observed that since September, there have been over 55 such attacks in North Waziristan and elsewhere, compared to 60 over the preceding eight months. These drone attacks arouse deep and broad anger within the Pakistani population against both the US and the Pakistani regime. The regime has already been traumatized by the release last month, via WikiLeaks, of US diplomatic cables revealing that some US Special Forces troops are already being deployed alongside Pakistani forces in the tribal regions.
News reports that senior U.S. commanders in Afghanistan want to expand Special Operations ground raids into Pakistan‘s tribal areas in our view have been leaked deliberately in order to increase pressure on Pakistani military leaders to take tougher action against Taliban fighters seeking refuge in their country. However, if American generals genuinely want to increase such raids, then it needs to be stated emphatically that this is a ridiculous idea that demonstrates the naivety of US and NATO military commanders. This would of course be, by far the most dangerous scenario for US - Pakistan relations and could seriously damage the unity of the Pakistan army that could have horrendous consequences for all.
Washington has shown little sensitivity to the national interest of Pakistan and apparently is content with the corrupt regime in Pakistan who put up only token resistance. Now the US is relentlessly racketing up pressure on Pakistan to expand its military operations in the tribal regions of North Waziristan. Pakistan has already deployed well over 140,000 Pakistani troops who are actively fighting against it own people of tribal areas. US political and military officials have made clear their displeasure over Islamabad's refusal so far to set a date for an offensive in North Waziristan. The final decision in this regards rest with Gen Kayani the Chief of the Army Staff and all eyes are on him.
It is no secret what India wants. It wants the USA to remain entangled in Afghanistan and be viewed by the Muslim World as an enemy. If the Obama Administration adopted the Indian recommendation it surely would have huge implications for the United States as well as the wider world. America has two choices in Afghanistan. One is to accept what Pakistan‘s military 4 has been saying for a long time i.e. it is the best interest of America to withdraw early and work for a peace agreement with the neighbours of Afghanistan and the Taliban as well as non-Taliban. The other option is to dig in for a long haul in Afghanistan with defeat and ignominious withdrawal a certainty.