Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from Afghan Journal:

Pakistan getting ahead of itself on the Afghan chessboard?

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(An Afghan woman outside  a shop in Herat. Picture by Morteza Nikoubazl )

(An Afghan woman outside a shop in Herat. Picture by Morteza Nikoubazl )

If you have been reading news reports and blogs in recent weeks on Pakistan's Afghanistan strategy, you would think Islamabad has emerged at the top of the heap, holding all the cards to a possible endgame. Its close ties to the Afghan Taliban put Islamabad in a unique position for a negotiated settlement to the eight-year-war, with little place for arch rival India which has been trying to muscle into its sphere of influence.

But Pakistan must not be taken in by all the hype; it has neither delivered a strategic coup nor has it fully secured its interests, argue two experts in separate pieces that seem to cut through all the noise.

The ultimate measure of success in the current conflict is the security of the Pakistani people and that is showing no signs of improvement, says Pakistani commentator Ahsan Butt in an article carried by Foreign Policy's AFPAK channel. Last week's bombings in Lahore and in Swat the following day underlined the power of the militants to strike deep in the heartland despite a successful ground offensive in South Waziristan last year and stepped-up missile strikes by unmanned drone aircraft. What use is seeking strategic depth when you are being attacked at home?

Doubtless such peaks in violence are often followed by valleys, but  it will be hard to argue that the threat of indiscriminate violence against Pakistani citizens has dissipated in a meaningful way, says Butt. "Ultimately, this is what matters most. The job of the political and military leadership is not to secure 'Pakistan's interests' -- whatever they may be -- in Afghanistan. Such language bears an uncanny resemblance to the neoimperialism that both our right and left so vociferously denounce when it originates from the West. No, the job of our political and military leadership is to ensure a robust, but by no means perfect, level of safety for its citizens, so that they can go about their daily lives. It's pretty simple."

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Afghan supply routes face setbacks in Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan

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U.S. efforts to improve supplies for its troops in Afghanistan just had a double setback after militants in northwest Pakistan severed the main supply route for western forces and Kyrgyzstan's president said the United States must close its military base there.

Militants blew up a bridge on the Khyber Pass, cutting the supply route to western forces in Afghanistan and underscoring the need for the United States to seek alternative supply lines. The U.S. military sends 75 percent of supplies for the Afghan war through Pakistan but has been looking at using other transit routes through Central Asia. Although Washington has been sketchy on the details of its plans, its Manas military airbase near the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek has so far provided important logistical support for its operations in Afghanistan.  During a visit to Moscow, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev announced the closure of the base, opened after the 9/11 attacks.  Bakiyev made the announcement after securing a $2 billion loan and a further $150 million in aid from Russia.

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