The withdrawal of most combat troops from Afghanistan at the end of 2014 has raised questions from Kabul to Brussels to Washington about the potential chaos that may follow if the Taliban press to take over again.
Few people are as worried about what the pullout could trigger next door in Pakistan as Lieutenant-General Khalid Rabbani, commander of the frontline corps fighting militants in the northwest of the country.
Sitting in his office in the heavily-fortified headquarters of the XI Corps in Peshawar, he speaks anxiously about creating the right perceptions as the foreign troop exit approaches.
“If they are leaving and giving a notion of success to the Taliban of Afghanistan, this notion of success may have a snowballing effect on to the threat matrix of Afghanistan,” Rabbani told Reuters in an interview this week.
“On our side, it may give impetus to the already dying down so-called Tehreek-i-Taliban’s effort over here.”
The parliament recently concluded a review of ties with the United States, recommending an end to American drone strikes in the nation’s tribal areas.
Rabbani acknowledged the strikes can be effective, but said they also kill civilians and are counterproductive.
“You kill five, and you’re making 50 more enemies. It’s very clear arithmetic. This is the arithmetic that we’re trying to make them understand,” he said, adding that instead intelligence should be shared so that Pakistan can act.
“They may indicate (a target), we’ll pound it with the precision shooting of our F-16s. So it can be done, it has been done at one or two places. Why can’t this model be followed, we keep on telling them this is a possible model to be followed.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2012.