Op-Ed: Pakistan's alliance with the US and the Afghanistan war

Posted by Admin On Monday, 22 April 2013 0 comments

Islamabad - Afghan Security Forces, for the most part, have taken the lead in taking the fight to the Taliban. NATO provides cover with air support and financial support. A US residual force to retain influence in the region is planned after NATO withdraws in 2014.
Aside from security concerns for Afghanistan, there are serious political considerations, by both the US and Pakistan that dictate a US presence in the region. The US and NATO insist on a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) to guarantee immunity for US and NATO forces beyond 2014.
While this was a deal breaker when the US withdrew its troops from Iraq, the US knows it must maintain a presence to retain regional influence.
With several power brokers in the region, including Russia, India, China and Pakistan's own security concerns, the US is between a rock and a hard place if Karzai can't get agreement by his Loya Jirga, or meeting of elders.
Karzai has left the issue up to a meeting of elders or a Loya Jirga. Not only has Karzai baulked at the immunity issue, he also wants to limit certain types of operations, as well as forbid drone launches into Afghanistan. Even at present Karzai wants to limit CIA operations. Karzai is incensed at the civilian casualties caused by NATO operations.
Pakistan's Role in the future of Afghanistan
Pervez Musharraf, who recently returned to Pakistan in the hope of being a viable candidate in the next election, had his hopes dashed quickly and will be spending the next two weeks under custody before appearing in a trial on charges centering on his 2007 suspension of the constitution and mass firing of senior judges. He is now depicted as an enemy of the state.
Ironically Musharraf allied Pakistan with the US in its counter terrorism operations, at a heavy cost to Pakistan in human terms, but with substantial financial benefits. The Pakistani government, while complaining publicly, tolerates US drone attacks into its tribal region, a region the country is unable to control with its forces.
Pakistan is a nuclear power and nuclear proliferation is a concern, should the military and the government lose control. Thus it is no surprise that India has real concerns, while Russia and China have shown renewed interest in the region.
Ikram Sehgal, a Pakistani political and defense analyst, in an essay describes the uneasy relationship that exists with the US. He does pose the question though "Why break the relationship."
After allying itself with the US after the Taliban were pushed out of Afghanistan, he describes, what he considers the two most difficult years in the relationship, with the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed at two outposts near the Pakistani/Afghan border by US attack helicopters, gunships and fighter aircraft. This was capped, but not concluded, with the illegal raid into Abbottabad on May 2 to capture and kill Bin Laden.
The Nov 26, 2011 Salala incident in which 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed when two Pakistani border outposts were attacked by US Apache helicopters, an AC-130 gunship and two F- I5E fighter aircraft capped a hard six months after Osama bin Laden was disposed off in a US raid on his secret hideaway in Abbottabad on May 2, 2011.
US-Pakistan relations have seen many tough years, but 2011 and 2012 were by far the worst. It does not help when those you pay to serve the country’s interests are engaged in using the information and resources they have access to for undermining its interests on a full-time basis.
The US naturally publicly complains for the lack of cooperation by the Pakistani government and its inability to control its borders, but is quite happy to provide aid to Pakistan, while the Pakistani government tolerates its drone attacks. Hypocrisy at its best. Both governments are misleading their public.
Segahl argues when the US leaves Afghanistan in 2014, it knows that the billions of dollars poured into Afghanistan annually for the last decade will not ensure that the Afghan forces will not disintegrate in the manner they did after the Soviets left Afghanistan in February 1989. For the time being the US and its NATO allies have pledged $4.2 billion annually, but is that enough? In order to maintain a semblance of tranquility, if that is even possible, the US residual force post 2014 is required. But then the US has walked away from Afghanistan before.
The way ahead
President Obama and his NATO partners will attempt to demonstrate that the intervention in Afghanistan was warranted and has a successful conclusion. The propaganda war has already started. The US and Karzai know that without the Taliban at the negotiating table the effort for a lasting peace are next to nothing. The Taliban, which have recently started full scale attacks against Afghan Security Forces, are making their voice heard.
[i]The state department announced[/i] yesterday that the Acting Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador David Pearce would travel to Islamabad, Kabul, Brussels and Almaty next week (April 21-26).
In Islamabad, Ambassador Pearce will hold meetings with senior Government of Pakistan officials to discuss ways in which United States and Pakistan can continue to work together to advance our bilateral goals and affirm how both our countries can contribute to a secure, stable, and prosperous future for the region.
In Kabul, Ambassador Pearce will meet with Afghan leaders to discuss our continued support for the Afghan-led reconciliation process as the surest way to end violence and ensure lasting stability in Afghanistan and the broader region. They will also discuss Afghanistan’s elections, bilateral security cooperation, and other issues related to the Strategic Partnership Agreement.
From Kabul, Ambassador Pearce will travel to Brussels from April 23-24 to accompany Secretary Kerry for a meeting of NATO foreign ministers and have other bilateral meetings.
Money speaks volumes and will in all likelihood play a roll in the negotiations for both a SOFA agreement and to ensure that the so called bilateral goals are achieved with Pakistan. What's not part of the equation for now is what is on offer by Russia or China. How is India, which has a large stake in the future of Pakistan, affected by this apparent shift? One thing that seems apparent is that China will play an ever increasing role in the region in the future.
With an ever increasing need for natural resources, China, Russia and the US have an eye on the large oil and gas deposits in the Caucasus. US oil companies have discussed a pipeline from the Caucasus though Afghanistan to the Indian Ocean since the 80s. This may have been the reason Russia permitted US military aircraft to cross its territory.
Just like the Soviets before them, the US and its allies found out that Afghanistan is no cakewalk. A decade of war has turned their public against them and the excuse that it is a fight in the war of terror no longer flies.
With Afghan forces taking the lead only 23 US soldiers have been killed in action (KIA) in the first four months this year. Instead Afghans have been killed and taken the brunt of insurgent attacks. The current plan is to remove all NATO troops in twenty months and these troops are still in danger. During the past week there were two non hostile casualties and 14 US troops were wounded in action (WIA) Lest We Forget.
Roll of casualties casualties
Below are this week’s updated DOD casualty figures:
Op Enduring Freedom Total Deaths KIA Non Hostile WIA
Afghanistan Only------------2070--------1716-----350------18418
Other Locations---------------119------------11-----108
DOD Civ Casualties-------------3-------- ----1---------2
Worldwide Total--------------2192--------1728------460---- -18418
Accumulated 2013 Casualties:
KIA Non Combat Deaths WIA

By Karl Gotthardt
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of SPY EYES. 
Courtesy: Digital Journal


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