President Obama's new strategy on Pakistan and Afghanistan is coming
under greater scrutiny in the U.S. Congress as lawmakers consider more
military and development aid for the two countries. The lawmakers want
more accountability and some are questioning whether providing more aid
is the answer. Analysts at Washington's think tanks are also weighing
in with opinions on the new strategy.
Taliban insurgents this
week carried out attacks on both sides of Pakistan's border with
Afghanistan. They staged suicide bombings near Afghan government
buildings and a U.S. military base in Afghanistan's Khost province.
They also targeted trucks carrying NATO supplies near Peshawar in
The Taliban's resurgence has heightened the debate in Washington over President Obama's new strategy for the region.
Stability linked to success
Obama has linked success in Afghanistan to stability in Pakistan, where
the radical Taliban movement has been on the rise.
"We have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaida in Pakistan and Afghanistan," President Obama said.
Obama has asked the Congress for $400 million in immediate emergency
aid for Pakistan to fight insurgency. He has also asked for a sizable
increase in development aid for Afghanistan.
But some senators
argue that the Bush administration provided more than $12 billion to Pakistan, but with no concrete results.
Lawmakers demand accountability
And at a
Senate committee hearing this week, lawmakers from both political
parties demanded more accountability for the aid going to both Pakistan
Republican Senator James Risch says he is
stunned by a lack of progress in Afghanistan, which he called a "black
hole" with no bottom.
"It is just breathtaking, the amount of
money, the American lives we've spent there, and you have a government
that has control maybe to the outskirts of the capital," he said.
Holbrooke, the administration's special representative on Pakistan and
Afghanistan, responded by saying benchmarks will be set to measure
But the U.S. troop increase in Afghanistan is also
raising concern. Mr. Obama has ordered the deployment of 21,000 extra
troops to Afghanistan to help strengthen the war effort in the southern
part of the country.
Democrat Senator Russ Feingold says he fears this could force Taliban and al-Qaida fighters to flee into Pakistan.
"Are you sure that the troop buildup in Afghanistan will not be counterproductive vis-à-vis Pakistan?" he asked.
I am only sure that we are aware of the problem, that we are working
intensely with the Pakistani army," Holbrooke responded.
Holbrooke said the United States is encouraging Pakistan to move more troops to its western border.
Afghanistan must play its part
some lawmakers say stability in Afghanistan will not be achieved solely
through military means. They say the Afghan government will have to
curb poppy production and end corruption.
To do this, analysts
such as counterterrorism expert Fred Kagan say any successful strategy
must include bringing much needed rule of law in Afghanistan.
they do need is someone who can make decisions about land and property
disputes and enforce them," Kagan said. "And a failure to develop a
rule of law system that addresses that problem has created one of the
openings that allows the Taliban to function. We have to focus on this."
say President Obama will also have to find more effective ways to
expand and improve Afghan security forces, and to improve the U.S
ability to overcome the propaganda by the Taliban and al-Qaida.