Afghanistan, Pakistan: already at war?

Barack Obama proposes the US deploy 10,000 more troops to Afghanistan to fight insurgents even as he pledges to remove troops from Iraq, plugging the proposal in a New York Times op-ed, “My Plan for Iraq.” (NYT, July 14) Meanwhile, relations are fast deteriorating between Afghanistan and key US ally Pakistan. In an official statement calling Pakistan’s security forces the “world’s biggest producers of terrorism and extremism,” Afghanistan announced it is suspending participation in three meetings with Pakistani officials scheduled for the next few weeks. Afghanistan charged Islamabad with “direct interference in its internal affairs.” (Newsday, July 16)

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry responded with a statement accusing Afghanistan of creating an “artificial crisis” between the two countries, adding: “Such baseless accusations serve no purpose other than vitiating the bilateral atmosphere.” (Bloomberg, July 16)

On July 13, more than 100 insurgents breached a US outpost at Wanat in Kunar province, near the Pakistan border, killing nine US troops in hours of fierce fighting. The insurgents used rocket propelled grenades and homemade mortars to bombard the base, close to Pakistan’s border, from several sides. Fighting also raged in Helmand province, where US forces said 40 insurgents had been killed in 24 hours. (BBC, July 14)

NATO announced two days after the battle it has abandoned the outpost, which it had established five days before it was attacked. “We are confirming that we have vacated our combat outpost at Wanat,” said NATO spokesman Mark Laity. (The Australian, July 16) The BBC World Service reports that the Taliban now claim to be in control of the outpost.

Attacks in eastern Afghanistan are up 40% this year, according to US military sources. June was the deadliest month for US and NATO forces in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion. US fatalities in Afghanistan in both May and June topped those in Iraq. Intelligence reports maintain foreign militants are pouring into Afghanistan to join the insurgency, as they did in Iraq two years ago.

“Foreign fighters do make a difference, and it’s important to note their increase and the role they play, particularly in correlation to al-Qaeda,” said Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “On the other hand, characterizing the problem in Afghanistan as driven by foreign fighters does not track with evidence from the ground.” But Cordesman places greater weight with the role of militants based just across the border in Pakistan’s tribal areas, saying the war is now essentially “an Afghanistan-Pakistan conflict.” (CSM, July 16)

See our last posts on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

  1. ISI backs Afghan insurgency?
    Details are sketchy, but wire accounts indicate some 300 jihadist militants took part in a secret meeting last month in Rawalpindi where they agreed to cooperate in sending fighters across the border to join the insurgency in Afghanistan. Rawalpindi is the military garrison city where the headquarters of the Pakistani army is based—which strongly suggests official sanction, if not outright oversight, of the meeting. Participating groups were said to include Jaish-i-Mohammad, Lashkar-i-Tayyaba, Hezb-ul-Mujahedin, and the al-Badr group. (RFE/RL, July 18)

    1. US in Middle East
      In the 1950s, in the wake of Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” plan, Pakistan obtained a 125 megawatt heavy-water reactor from Canada. After India’s first atomic test in May 1974, Pakistan immediately sought to catch up by attempting to purchase a reprocessing plant from France. After France declined due to U.S. resistance, Pakistan began to assemble a uranium enrichment plant via materials from the black market and technology smuggled through A.Q. Khan. In 1976 and 1977, two amendments to the Foreign Assistance Act were passed, prohibiting American aid to countries pursuing either reprocessing or enrichment capabilities for nuclear weapons programs.

      These two, the Symington and Glenn Amendments, were passed in response to Pakistan’s efforts to achieve nuclear weapons capability; but to little avail. Washington’s cool relations with Islamabad soon improved. During the Reagan administration, the US turned a blind eye to Pakistan’s nuclear weapon’s program. In return for Pakistan’s cooperation and assistance in the mujahideen’s war against Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the Reagan administration awarded Pakistan with the third largest economic and military aid package after Israel and Egypt. Despite the Pressler Amendment, which made US aid contingent upon the Reagan administration’s annual confirmation that Pakistan was not pursuing nuclear weapons capability, Reagan’s “laissez-faire” approach to Pakistan’s nuclear program seriously aided the proliferation issues that we face today.

      Not only did Pakistan continue to develop its own nuclear weapons program, but A.Q. Khan was instrumental in proliferating nuclear technology to other countries as well. Further, Pakistan’s progress toward nuclear capability led to India’s return to its own pursuit of nuclear weapons, an endeavor it had given up after its initial test in 1974. In 1998, both countries had tested nuclear weapons. A uranium-based nuclear device in Pakistan; and a plutonium-based device in India.

      Over the years of America’s on again- off again support of Pakistan, Musharraf continues to be skeptical of his American allies. In 2002 he is reported to have told a British official that his “great concern is that one day the United States is going to desert me. They always desert their friends.” Musharraf was referring to Viet Nam, Lebanon, Somalia … etc., etc., etc.,

      Taking the war to Pakistan is perhaps the most foolish thing America can do. Obama is not the first to suggest it, and we already have sufficient evidence of the potentially negative repercussions of such an action. On January 13, 2006, the United States launched a missile strike on the village of Damadola, Pakistan. Rather than kill the targeted Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s deputy leader, the strike instead slaughtered 17 locals. This only served to further weaken the Musharraf government and further destabilize the entire area. In a nuclear state like Pakistan, this was not only unfortunate, it was outright stupid. Pakistan has 160 million Arabs (better than half of the population of the entire Arab world). Pakistan also has the support of China and a nuclear arsenal.

      I predict that America’s military action in the Middle East will enter the canons of history alongside Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the Holocaust, in kind if not in degree. The Bush administration’s war on terror marks the age in which America has again crossed a line that many argue should never be crossed. Call it preemption, preventive war, the war on terror, or whatever you like; there is a sense that we have again unleashed a force that, like a boom-a-rang, at some point has to come back to us. The Bush administration argues that American military intervention in the Middle East is purely in self-defense. Others argue that it is pure aggression. The consensus is equally as torn over its impact on international terrorism. Is America truly deterring future terrorists with its actions? Or is it, in fact, aiding the recruitment of more terrorists?

      The last thing the United States should do at this point and time is to violate yet another state’s sovereignty. Beyond being wrong, it just isn’t very smart. We all agree that slavery in this country was wrong; as was the decimation of the Native American populations. We all agree that the Holocaust and several other acts of genocide in the twentieth century were wrong. So when will we finally admit that American military intervention in the Middle East is wrong as well?

        1. Pakistan at war
          President Bush will most definitely go down in history as the worst President in US. Excuse me I find it hard to even call him our President. He has done nothing but”stir the pot”, in a Holy War. Does he really think he has accomplished anything but take human lives, and for what?
          These Middle Eastern Countries have been invaded by President Bush’s power of ignorance. Does he really think he can win every war he has started over there? Does he really think our God will let this kind of behavior continue much longer? Praise our God and pray for souls that at lost, because I believe the end of time is near.

      1. Correction of above article
        Pakistan does not have 160 million Arabs. Its 160 Pakistani.
        yes bringing war to Pakistan was wrong . We feel war has been enforced upon us. America cant control Taliban or insurgents in Iraq and when Pakistan is having trouble doing it, saying Pakistan hosts and breeds terrorists is unfair. If America really believed in this earlier they would never have soulg alliecne with Pakistan.

        1. You are so right
          Pakistan certainly does not have 160 million Arabs. The writer was hallucinating. But just to be clear: that was not an “article.” It was a comment. World War 4 Report tries to point out errors in comments left by our readers, but we take no responsibility for their accuracy. Material which we post ourselves, on the other other hand, we vouch for.

          According to the CIA World Fact Book, Pakistan’s total population is not quite 173 million. The ethnic breakdown is provided thusly:

          Punjabi 44.1%, Pashtun (Pathan) 15.4%, Sindhi 14.1%, Sariaki 10.5%, Urdu 7.6%, Balochi 3.6%, other 4.7%

          I’ve a hunch that the commenter meant 160 million Muslims.