News / Asia

Pakistan's Role in Afghan War Questioned

US and NATO fuel trucks burning in Shikarpur, southern Pakistan, 01 Oct 2010
US and NATO fuel trucks burning in Shikarpur, southern Pakistan, 01 Oct 2010
Gary Thomas

As the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan picks up pace, the role of Pakistan in that effort, analysts say, is becoming both more necessary and more troublesome.  The United States needs Pakistan to help carry out its Afghan strategy.  Pakistan needs the U.S. for foreign assistance, particularly military aid.

In his new book, Obama's War, journalist Bob Woodward quotes President Obama as saying in a late 2009 meeting in his Oval Office that "We need to make clear to people that the cancer is in Pakistan."  The "cancer" he refers to is the safe havens just inside Pakistan from which Taliban fighters launch attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan.  Yet, despite U.S. pleading and inducements to the Pakistani government, the Taliban strongholds remain by and large intact.

In what analysts say is a sign of growing frustration, the U.S. has sharply escalated its unmanned aerial drone attacks on the Taliban safe havens inside Pakistan.  There have also been new instances of so-called "hot pursuit" in which NATO forces crossed briefly into Pakistani territory to attack fleeing Taliban fighters.  In one recent incident, a NATO helicopter gunship killed three Pakistani soldiers while attacking the militants.

In retaliation, Islamabad closed a key western border crossing at the base of the Khyber Pass, bottling up convoys taking fuel and other supplies to NATO troops in Afghanistan.  Many of the trucks waiting in Pakistan to make the journey, which have no U.S. troop protection, were attacked and burned by Taliban fighters.   

"Though some of the U.S.-NATO military actions inside Pakistan can be justified legally as 'hot pursuit', the danger is the growing inflammation of Pakistani public opinion against the U.S.," says the former European Union Special Representative to Afghanistan, Francesc Vendrell.  He also says there is a danger that the cross-border actions will trigger what he calls "increased sabotage of our efforts in Afghanistan by the ISI," Pakistan's powerful intelligence service.

Pakistan has repeatedly denied any role in backing the Taliban and says it is energetically working to fight terrorism.   But some analysts say Pakistan is nevertheless positioning itself to be a major player when U.S. troops withdraw from Afghanistan.  That process is supposed to begin next July if conditions on the ground permit.

Political stability in Afghanistan is also part of that equation, and recent parliamentary elections in Afghanistan were riddled with what U.S. Army War College Professor Larry Goodson calls "obvious and significant fraud." The government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai is also viewed as rife with corruption, Goodson says, noting that governmental legitimacy is critical to the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.

"Fraudulent elections never do much to create legitimacy, and the other possible way of getting there, such as providing goods and services, seem equally problematic for the Afghan government," Goodson says.  "So how, exactly, do we get the Afghan people to accept the legitimacy of a manifestly illegitimate government?"

In a study written for the National Bureau of Asian Research but never published, Goodson says, "the United States cannot easily extricate itself from Afghanistan in the near future. Not only will the United States lose its standing to other powers in the region, the state-building project necessary to create peace and stability will fail."

As a result, the United States may end being even more reliant on Pakistan.  An analysis by the private intelligence firm, STRATFOR, concludes that "Pakistan's assistance will be needed in the not-too-distant phase of reaching a negotiated settlement with the Afghan Taliban, which would create the circumstances for Western forces to exit Afghanistan."

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid