Review of Obama’s Afghan policy

Published: December 20, 2010
The writer is a retired brigadier who has served in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Fata

The writer is a retired brigadier who has served in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Fata

The annual review of US President Barack Obama’s Afghan policy states that al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan is at its weakest since 2001. It is harder for them to recruit and travel, and to train members to plot and launch attacks. The US has made enough progress in Afghanistan to start a “responsible reduction” of forces in July 2011. But the gains made against the Taliban by a US troop surge remain “fragile and reversible”. Pakistan had made progress in tackling al Qaeda’s “safe havens”, it says, but” progress has not come fast enough”.

President Obama’s Afghan strategy is aimed at a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda and its allies in Pakistan and Afghanistan and prevent their return to either country. His policy speech of March 2009 included the realisation that the future of Afghanistan is inextricably linked to the future of Pakistan.

In December 2009, President Obama announced the deployment of 30,000 additional troops in Afghanistan to reverse the Taliban momentum and set July 2011 as a date to begin pulling US forces out of the country. He also pointed out the need to accelerate efforts to build an Afghan army and a police force to take on security responsibilities following the withdrawal. Obama identified three core elements of the new strategy: “a military effort to create the conditions for a transition; a civilian surge that reinforces positive action; and an effective partnership with Pakistan.

One year is too short a period to evaluate the effects of a policy aimed at solving a very complex problem. The year 2010 has been the deadliest year for US troops, with 489 fatalities. Obama may be partially right about the weakening of al Qaeda in Pakistan as a number of foreign terrorist, allegedly linked to al Qaeda, have been killed in drone attacks since Obama took office. However, since al Qaeda is not a structured organisation, there is no dearth of volunteers willing to fight for its cause. The Afghan army has also not been tested independently for its professional capabilities and operational preparedness to fight an unconventional war. It needs to be tasked with securing a Taliban dominated area to evaluate its real potential as a potent force. Coalition forces must deny operating spaces to Taliban. Major operations to secure areas need to be conducted in 2011. The process of reintegrating the Taliban into society should be pursued. Dialogue with selected Taliban leaders may also help Obama’s latest plan of withdrawal in 2014. North Waziristan is likely to be secured by the spring of 2011 by the Pakistan Army. Nato forces have to keep a watch on places which the Haqqani group is likely to choose as its future bases. The next year’s review is likely to describe a clearer picture of the success or failure of Obama’s Afghan strategy.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 21st, 2010.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • Alamdar khan
    Dec 21, 2010 - 10:05AM

    A very complied article indeed and luckily got a chance to go through Obama’s Afghan policy. The only thing that is still not sure is if it will work or not; even though Pakistan Army made sure that they could take over the Taliban on ground in tribal areas and US preferred the drones.

    The question still remains is what if this policy doesn’t work ??
    What would the contingency plan be ??
    Would we be responsible for the failure ??
    How threatening would it be for Pakistan’s relationship with US??Recommend

  • Awais Khan
    Dec 21, 2010 - 12:49PM

    I appreciate the article of Asad Munir. He has analyzed the stated policy in the most effective way.
    We need more from you Asad SahibRecommend

  • Habib Sha
    Dec 21, 2010 - 1:37PM

    NATO Forces have not been able to secure Taliban dominated provinces,in the last nine years.They have conducted only three major operations. Pakistan is being blamed for unabated insurgency,in Afghanistan.Obama should ask the Coalition Forces to do more,secure the eastern provinces.Once North Waziristan is secured,NATO Forces would have no excuse for their failure to control the momentum of Taliban activities.The casualties count for Pakistanis is more than 30,000,while that for NATO Forces,in nine years,is less than 2000.Its time that the NATO commanders are held accountable for their achievements,in war on terror. Recommend

  • Hammad+Siddiqui
    Dec 21, 2010 - 7:27PM

    It is a tough decision, cost of war is just to much…. But what will happen next?

    Read my blog on this:

  • Jahangir
    Dec 22, 2010 - 6:20AM

    Coalition Forces missed the opportunity between 2001-2003,once Taliban had vanished,and were on the run.That was the time to secure Pashtun belt of Afghanistan,to prevent Taliban come back.Now its too late.Recommend

  • Shabaz Khan
    Dec 22, 2010 - 7:06PM

    Good analysis as usual. Always good to read articles by Khalid Ahmed,Ayesha siddiqa and Asad Munir.Informative and educative.Recommend

  • Omar Khan
    Dec 23, 2010 - 10:33AM

    Let’s see what happens next year or whenever US troops leave Afghanistan. I think there’ll be trouble when they leave.
    Good Article.Recommend

  • Shabir
    Dec 23, 2010 - 6:54PM

    Once again most informative and knowledgeable article by Asad Munir.
    We want shortly, further analytical and comprehensive information from Asad Munir’ Recommend

  • Shabir
    Dec 23, 2010 - 7:00PM

    Once again most informative and knowledgeable article by Asad Munir.
    We want shortly, further analytical and comprehensive information from Asad Munir.Well written.Recommend

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