This refers to the editorial “Limits of the Afghan surge” (Dec. 3). The Afghan Taliban leadership and the al-Qaeda militants are ensconced in Pakistan and receive patronage from Islamabad. Despite knowing this, the U.S. gives billions of dollars to Pakistan in aid and calls it an ally in its war on terror. It is the poor Afghan people who are trapped between the U.S.-NATO troops and the militants. President Barack Obama’s decision to send more troops to Afghanistan adds fuel to the fire. Certainly, approval for a troop surge was not expected from a person who just won the Nobel Prize for Peace.
Additional troops may improve the morale of the U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But Washington should seriously assess the ground situation there, which is quite different from the war theatre. Unless the local population consisting of the poor and the illiterate tribals are won over and politicians are willing to settle for peaceful political and economic development, it is doubtful whether any military or political mission will achieve its goal in Afghanistan.
Mr. Obama’s plan to add 30,000 troops to the existing force in Afghanistan may lessen violence there. But the basic reason for the growth of the Taliban in Afghanistan lies in the backwardness of the country. The U.S. and other western powers should focus on and allot funds for the development of the country.
Given the fret today, forget tomorrow trend, Mr. Obama’s initiative is welcome. The wound inflicted by the former U.S. President, George Bush, is festering. The exit of American troops in 2011 and the restoration of peace in the region will remain elusive unless the Pakistani army stops patronising the Taliban.
Afghanistan, with its hostile terrain and a bewildering complexity of ethnic animosities, has historically proved to be a Waterloo for foreign occupation forces. As rightly stated, the Pakistani dimension will be the deciding factor in determining whether the U.S. can bring the war to an end by 2011. It is not that the U.S. is unaware of Pakistan’s duplicity of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds. It is reluctant to act. Pakistan has been exploiting the U.S. dilemma to the hilt by demanding more military and economic aid which can be used against its traditional adversary. The situation portends turmoil in the neighbourhood.
The new Afghan policy unveiled by Mr. Obama imparts confidence not only to the U.S. troops operating in the region but also to other nations involved in the fight against terror. The time-bound operation announced by Mr. Obama will definitely achieve its objective provided a more intelligent and effective approach causing minimal damage to the civilian population is adopted.
C. Petson Peter,
Pumping in more soldiers and dragging on the war will only mean more causalities without achieving the desired result. The war on terror should now be directed against Pakistan as it hosts the Taliban and the al-Qaeda. Mr. Obama should deal with it with an iron hand. If he cannot do this, it would be better for him to leave Afghanistan without shedding more American blood.
J. Eden Alexander,