The recent unprecedented flood in Pakistan has provided a good opportunity to the US administration to win the hearts and minds of the people, which according to observers, will be the indication of a victory against terrorism. There is still confusion about the terminology. What will be the meaning of terrorism? But this is a fact that terrorism exists in the world. Now this is also a very good debate as who has created terrorism and why. But now controlling of terrorism is a must.
Is the US losing in Afghanistan? The answer seems to depend on who you ask. US Under Secretary of Defence for Policy Michele Flournoy thinks that "extremism can be defeated" in that country, provided there is clarity of purpose and commitment to the cause. But with American casualties growing and support in the US declining, speculation has centred on the exit phase of President Obama's "surge then exit' strategy announced last December.
The US president has tried to downplay that
speculation, declaring last week that America's goals were "modest" and
could be accomplished, but it refuses to go away. Which raises a
difficult question: can the US "win', however that's described, if
everyone thinks they are losing? The record number of casualties
suffered by the Americans in the last couple of months is partially the
result of taking on the Taliban forces more aggressively, a simple
reality of war. But the more fatalities and casualties that the
Americans suffer, the more the perception grows that they can't win.
Then there are the problems with the implementation of
"population-centric' counter-insurgency measures, the American strategy
in Afghanistan: Marjah has proved to be a public relations disaster;
Kunduz a strategic disaster; and Kandahar hasn't even got off the ground
The faltering American campaign elicits mixed opinion in this part of the world, with some perhaps happy to see the modern-day "imperial power' losing. What may be necessary, though, is to step back and recognise the cost of losing to the Taliban in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan itself there is a consensus that were the Americans to withdraw soon, the country would be plunged into chaos, a state of anarchy known well to that country. The consensus is all the more remarkable given that many pockets in the country openly dislike the American presence. To be sure, some newly won freedoms hang in the balance in Afghanistan, not least that of girls and women who are able to go to school, travel and work and have begun the tough process of establishing their place in Afghanistan at the public level. But it's much more than that: if the American-led war in Afghanistan fails, the country may go back in time several hundred years, a destabilising force in an already tough neighbourhood.
Here in Pakistan, those willing to countenance American failure should also pause and think about the potential consequences. In the 1990s there was no TTP, no insurgency inside Pakistan, no war being fought in the tribal areas. We need to recognise that a radical Islamist configuration in Afghanistan could pose an existential threat to this country.