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Afghanistan

Essentially, Pakistan has had to contend with a string of inconvenient issues on its western front. With this as the backdrop, this is an appropriate moment to analyse what Pakistan might attempt in order to regain lost ground. This analysis is important not just for Afghanistan, but also for India and the US, both powerful regional actors, who are, perhaps for the first time, on the same page on Afghanistan.

 

Over the past few months, the Obama administration has renewed its efforts to strengthen its position in Afghanistan. In spite of the worsening death toll from the ongoing war, the Obama administration has made a series of new wartime commitments to ensure that the United States maintains a powerful influence over the country well into the future.

 

A recent surge of tens of thousands of Afghan families returning from Pakistan, spurred by increasing incidents of detention, forced evictions, police raids and harassment, signals a possible humanitarian crisis for Afghanistan in the coming months.

 

While trying to stabilize the country, these two organizations undertook two actions that made its problems worse, the latest study says: The CIA partnered over a long period with politically connected warlords that engaged in “rampantly corrupt activities,” largely out of political expediency; meanwhile, U.S. aid organizations helped stoke the country’s historic corruption by pouring in more funds than the country could responsibly absorb, all the while measuring their achievements by how much, rather than how well, money was spent. With short military deployment stints and high turnover in civilian oversight roles, no one in Washington or in Afghanistan took effective responsibility for fixing these problems.

 
On Sept. 9, 2001, a famed Tajik commander and war hero named Ahmad Shah Massoud was approached for an interview by two individuals claiming to be journalists. A bomb concealed in a video camera carried by one of them exploded, and Massoud died while being evacuated to a nearby hospital.  
 

Fifteen years ago last week, the US launched the longest war in its history: the invasion and occupation of remote Afghanistan. Neighbouring Pakistan was forced to help the Americans or "be bombed back to the stone age".

 
As Afghan forces struggle to break a weeklong Taliban siege of central neighborhoods in the provincial capital of Kunduz, insurgents are also stepping up pressure on urban centers in western and southern Afghanistan, officials said Sunday.  
 

Afghanistan may have begun as a “war of necessity,” as Obama once put it—a forceful and targeted response to the attacks of September 11. But today, after 15 years, it’s a catastrophe from which we cannot seem to free ourselves. Osama bin Laden has been dead for five years. But Afghanistan remains the bone stuck in America’s throat.

 
If Afghanistan were to fall, in no time at all it would become the world headquarters of terrorist training. The country, which has experienced one conflict after another over the last 40 years, would descend into civil war and medieval conditions.  
 

And so it was that America’s war in Afghanistan, dubbed Operation Enduring Freedom (renamed Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in 2014), began as a strategic and tactical muddle on October 7, 2001, when the air campaign began 15 years ago. It remains a muddle to this day. And a muddle—possibly an intractable one—is precisely what the next U.S. president will inherit from Barack Obama, despite the 44th president’s strenuous efforts to pull out of Afghanistan entirely before he left office.

 


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