Sunday, March 29, 2009

US looking for an exit strategy

From Obama, a guide 
for avoiding defeat in Afghanistan
Tony Karon, The National: The keyword of US President Barack Obama's new Afghanistan plan didn't make it into the text of the speech in which he announced it on Friday. That would be 'exit strategy.' ... The new plan, then, is less a blueprint for victory than it is a guide for avoiding defeat...

Pakistan has made clear that it has no intention of fighting Taliban elements whose operational focus is on fighting NATO in Afghanistan. The Pakistani Army has made peace agreements with a number of Pakistan-based Taliban groups that continue to wage war in Afghanistan.

Pakistan originally installed the Taliban in power in Afghanistan to ensure that its western flank was guarded by a friendly regime... After the September 11 attacks, the then president Pervez Musharraf tried, ultimately in vain, to convince the US to adopt a strategy of trying to detach the Taliban from al Qa'eda, and persuading them to expel Osama bin Laden.

But Pakistan's generals are arguably taking a long view, assuming that the US and its allies will eventually tire of their entanglement in the Hindu Kush, and when they do, Pakistan will be in a position to restore at least some of the power of its erstwhile proxies next door...

So, while Washington hopes to change Pakistan's relationship with the Taliban, Pakistan may be aiming ultimately to persuade Washington of the utility of that relationship. After all, Pakistan will be a player in Afghanistan long after America departs, and as far as it's concerned, the Taliban will be, too.