The US moving in circles in Afghanistan


Just read this GLOBE EDITORIAL – ??TAKING ON THE TALIBAN (posted by @muladhara on Twitter) about the possible US strategy towards Pakistan for peace in Afghanistan.

The editorial starts with a promising bang (the title), then meanders aimlessly with a ??status quo-esque analysis and subsequently ends with a whimper!

In nutshell, here is my understanding of what the editorial suggests :

  • US has both carrot (how magnanimous, considering so many recent revelations of Pakistan???s perfidy!) and stick for Pakistan
  • Offer Kayani a choice regarding Pakistan Army???s support to Taliban
  • If Kayani does not choose the right option, threaten him using India???s name.
  • If Kayani makes the right choice, work on reducing Indian influence in Afghanistan (ever so subtly suggested in the editorial!)

My questions are :

  • How is this strategy different from what Obama already pursues?
  • Why should the approach of the US towards India in Afghanistan be a function of what choice Kayani makes? What sort of foreign policy is this, considering India is the world???s largest democracy and a natural ally of the US?

The editorial, in my view, exhibits helpless anger of the US/NATO towards Pakistan but reinforces the status quo, That won???t take the US anywhere in Afghanistan.

What are your views about the US policy towards AfPak? Do you agree with the ideas expressed in the editorial? Please share your views!

About Aman Sharma

Management Professional.
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6 Responses to The US moving in circles in Afghanistan

  1. Anonymous says:

    "Why should the approach of the US towards India in Afghanistan be a function of what choice Kayani makes? What sort of foreign policy is this, considering India is the world???s largest democracy and a natural ally of the US?"Exactly. The US should be engaging with Pakistan’s elected government, not Kayani. Zardari et al have expressed over and over their desire for peace with India, if we empowered them the same we do with Kayani, there would be no need for carrots or sticks. Pakistan would make peace with India organically, no would have to force either side to do anything.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Yes Josh, the international community is guilty of giving too much importance to the Army at the cost of the civilian government in Pakistan, giving the army undue legitimacy. This is not a recent phenomenon, and has been happening since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.The international community needs to work towards strengthening democracy in Pakistan rather than looking for short term solutions to problems by greasing the palms of the Army, which is now known to play the double game. Appreciate the comment!

  3. ashwinkgopal says:

    Yes truly pointed out. But Aman, this is clearly a discordance in the US Govt. The US dept of Defence sits on the fence when it comes to the matter of active Indian involvement in Afghanistan. A few months back Gen David Petraeus remarked that Indian involvement was in fact actually a problem for Pakistan thereby siding with Kiyani. But its well known that Hillary Clinton and the US foreign office provides active encouragement to the Indian govt to get involved in Afghanistan’s reconstruction. This is a classic lack of clarity of the US Govt as evinced by earlier cases such as the case of the Russian arms dealer and "Sanctions Buster" Viktor Bout. It was said that the US Department of Defence or the USAF more specifically was in favor of his activities as they favored them but the US department of justice was strongly against this and they wanted him to be brought to the book. The FBI therefore was strongly limited in their flexibility to pursue Bout until 2008 when he was detained in Bangkok.So I guess UNLESS they tie up the loose ends and have a unified vision about this, they will keep going in circles!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Excellent insight Ashwin! You have very well pointed out the loose ends in the US administration’s approach. This dichotomy in the US approach towards Indian presence in Afghanistan is visible primarily because the US treats India based on what Kayani does. If Kayani works with the US against Afghani Taliban, India is dispensable. If Kayani secretly supports Afghan Taliban (which he has been doing), India has a role to play! It is this part of the US policy towards India that is objectionable to me!Since Kayani has kept the US guessing, various arms of the US administration speak in different languages regarding Indian presence!

  5. confabmac says:

    Aman, I’m left with feeling of helplessness coz all we can do is discuss. As always great insights..but I wish life were this simple, in this case the situation in Afghanistan is certainly not! So far the story in Afghanistan goes it looks far from over for US!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Muzakkir (@confabmac) for your comments!The best that India can do is to hang in there. When Obama finalized his ‘surge’ strategy, all seemed lost for India. However, with recent revelations of Pakistan’s perfidy by surreptitiously supporting Afghan Taliban, murmurs of anger and anguish within the US (like the Globe editorial) have started to emerge. That gives strength to my belief that sooner rather than later, India’s stand will get vindicated!

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