Do Obama’s Afghan plans still make sense post-Mumbai?

December 21, 2008

The United States is aiming to send 20,000 to 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan by the beginning of next summer, according to the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.  The plan is not unexpected, and from a military point of view is meant to allow U.S. and NATO troops not just to clear out Taliban insurgents but also to bring enough stability to allow economic development, as highlighted in this analysis by Reuters Kabul correspondent Jon Hemming.

But does it still make sense after the Mumbai attacks — intentionally or otherwise – sabotaged the peace process between India and Pakistan?

As discussed many times on this blog, most recently here, a crucial element of President-elect Barack Obama’s Afghan strategy was to combine sending extra troops with a new diplomatic approach looking at the Afghanistan-Pakistan-India region as a whole. The argument was that Pakistan would never fully turn its back on Islamist militants as long as it felt threatened by India on its eastern border and by growing Indian influence in Afghanistan on its western border.  India and Pakistan, so the argument went, should therefore be encouraged to make peace over Kashmir, to reduce tensions in Afghanistan and pave the way for a successful operation by the extra U.S. troops.

Where does that plan stand now? India-Pakistan relations are extremely strained and vulnerable to any second militant attack on India. It’s hard to imagine the two countries sitting down any time soon for serious peace talks, and certainly not at the United States’ behest, given that outside interference on Kashmir has always been anathema to India.

Yet as the Soviet Union discovered during its failed occupation of Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989, no matter how many troops you send in, you can’t win there as long as the Islamist mujahideen have sanctuary in Pakistan.  The United States knows this too having backed the mujahideen against the Soviets (this being a war that America has fought on both sides), which is presumably why it had begun to look at Afghanistan in a broader regional context.

So have the Americans reverted to a piecemeal approach with this plan to send in the extra troops? Are they just pushing on regardless and hoping for the best, perhaps thinking they have no other choice? Or should they have gone back to the drawing-board post-Mumbai and come up with a different plan?


QUESTION 1: Which is the biggest sham democracy in the world held hostage by ten gunmen for 3 days ?

QUESTION 2: Which is the 160 million strong muslim country and also a nuclear power?

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

QUESTION: Which is the only country in the world where terrorists carry out suicide mission but carry with them identity cards with full names so they can be identified later?
ANSWER: The wonderland of fools( INDIA.)

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

QUESTION: Name the Indian blogger deeply obsessed with 1971 Indo-Pak war posting silly questions on Rueters blog?
ANSWER: Victor

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

What are the future hopes for “Pakistan’s economy?

None. The brand name “Pakistan” means terrorism world over. 80% of terrorists come from “Pakistan” according to Birtish PM. With such an advertisement you can imagine the inflow of foreign investments. The “country” has no industry, no educational instituitions to survive or progress in the 21st centrury.


Not sure about Obama unless he takes the oath. I’m waiting for Hilary to have a frequent fly to India.

However, to justify, if the more troops are pushed towards Taliban, and if India and Pakistan meets up in the War, this will ensure that Taliban will not be in a position to support Pakistani Army against India. But no one knows about the US plans, neither themselves unless its implemented.

Posted by Sam | Report as abusive


I know a lot of educated Pakistanis and work with them and respect and like them.

You however need to do something productive with your time, you are making Pakistani’s look very bad. You are indulging in one-sided hate-fueled rants against hindus.

Do you have even one hindu friend?

Posted by Indian | Report as abusive

You seriously need to grow up man.
I am ashamed of you.
You do not represent pakistani view.
Don’t bring more bad name to brand “Pakistan”.

Posted by jinnah | Report as abusive

If India attacks Pakistan, Taliban will be up in the air as it’s strong base Pakistan will be busy defending itself. The best trategy now for US is bring in few more troops in Afghanistan and let India attack Pakistan. That way Taliban will be weakened and India will cripple Pakistan which is the foundation of Taliban. You don’t need much proof of it as Taliban has said that they will fight for their along with their founding father Pakistani army if India attacks.

Posted by Sudhir | Report as abusive

I have enough friends in China & Pakistan, remember I’m an Indian too. None of these people have any intentions like you are telling.
Everyone of us wants peace and harmony, all those politicians and so called diplomats are making fun of our nations.
My Pakistani friends are worried a lot, have you ever thought what happens if your nation is declared as “Terrorist nation” your Pakistani brothers studying, working abroad will be kicked-off, they will be humiliated to the maximum. These are psychological warfare, therefore think that will defuse the tensions between our nations.
We all work aborad leaving our families at hometown, if the war is declared, remember how much tensions would creep in our mind about our families.
People like you must collect more and more people and insist governments and others to build relationships not to break relationships.
Also think, both the nations have nuclear weapons, if both use it, many of us will die for the sake of terrorists. The after effects are more dear, everything will be curious, anxious before War, but after War? Ask US soldiers families how they felt during Vietnam war, and now in Iraq and Afghan. Their lives are miserable without their men at home.
How many people will lose their children, how many will become orphans, how many will lose their assets. These politicians and diplomats will go and settle down elsewhere from the nation and enjoy their lives, the ultimate sufferers are common people.
So please think constructively and aggressively.

PS: We are all working for an Indian Company.

Posted by Sam | Report as abusive

@ Pakistani’s

Dear Pakistani’s you and Hindus share the same ancestors, that makes us brothers, even though we read a different book, that is ok though. We have the same food, music, languages and cultures, why would brothers need to hate each other?

Hate is manufactured to gain power and politics and religion is used against the people, like a huge hijacking and assault on your mind and sensibility of reality. All India wants is for ordinary Pakistani’s to remove the Madrassas, the ISI, the Military and corrupt Police. We don’t want to conquer or take over Pakistan, we have no such goals, but want to be free of hate and terrorism and enjoy cricket together, maybe even enjoy a dosa together, while we talk about cricket.

The Military, ISI and your government needs you to hate us to justify its existence.

Please take charge of your reality, the world sees Pakistan’s potential, but it is killed with so much terrorism and corruption.

The people are suffereing. India is not the cause, so please do not hate us, as hate takes so much energy and destroys the constructive energy.

Posted by We are brothers | Report as abusive

Sam and Sudhir
Both of you guys, I did have hindu friends one time when I was an overseas Pakistani living and working abroad. I am pretty much mindful of what an ordinary Pakistani goes through both inside Pakistan and abroad. I was only replying to a silly guy who was again and again posting silly things about Pakistan and highlighting Pakistan to be a failed state. As a Pakistani it is my duty to defend my country through every means.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

It’s ironic that the World Bank has been targetted for cyber-terrorism by Indian IT outsourcers. The World Bank has compiled shocking facts about poverty in India, which the Indian Government does not let the Indian public know. Thats why Indian IT outsourcers planted spyware in World Bank software system.

The World Bank reports that 456 million Indians are living below US$ 1.25/day (in abject poverty), i.e. TRIPLE the entire population of Pakistan! In any democracy, that would be cause for intense self-examination, but most Indians are in a state of denial about it.

Cybersecurity has become the top concern of Corporate America. All Western firms that have ever outsourced to Indian IT firms must firewall their systems and scan them for spyware. Indian IT outsourcing presents a huge exposure to cyber crime. It negates any short-term cost advantages if business confidential information is leaking via Indian outsourcing.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

In india more than 150,000 employees get laid off from thier employement so far see how many more – source “The observernt”

Any news of retrenchment in Pakistan so far – NO.

Who is th boss now?
Pakistan in better in economy than any other country in world – one proof for now.

Posted by Peace | Report as abusive

Pakistani terrorists have caused grievous casualties in USA, UK, Afghanistan and India.

Pakistan was and still is a rogue state fueled by acute insecurity and lack of faith in itself… exploited by the CIA over the last four decades.

India has a free media system unlike Pakistan and we don’t need a Pakistani to tell how many Indians are poor… and most certainly it was Pakistan that ran begging to the IMF too keep it from becoming BANKRUPT.

The essence of existence of Pakistan lies in hatred towards India, unlike the latter which rarely considers Pakistan in most of its matters… save a “really obnoxious neighbor” .. a ‘problem child’.

Posted by RW | Report as abusive

@Peace and Umair:

If you two are either the best or worst quasi-educated pak youth Pakistan has to offer, Pakistan is doomed as a society. You two have no friendliness, kindness to offer anybody, only a confrontational, superiority complex mindset fueled by hate. You call yourelves proud Pak’s? Just what are you really proud of, your morally bankrupt value system towards your neighbours and the world? You are shameful.

You have only hurt Pakistan’s image as you have only shown your value system to be confrontational, hateful and unfriendly. This is not a good way to make friends or get respect or integrity in the world.

If you are the typical youth in Pakistan. Pakistan is doomed to self implode.

Posted by Indian | Report as abusive

We Pakistani are proud of ourself only! our economy is self reliance and is not based any other country – like india – where lots of call center and IT & related-business are closed or at edge of closing.

Patience, love, tolerance, respect and self-esteem is in natural to us, it is in our gene and our blood.

Stop saying the same words and lines that have been spoon feeded to you by your lying media.

come to your senses if any exist.

Posted by Peace | Report as abusive

Gentleman and Ladies,

As I am sure you are all aware, there is more to this situation then the lines in the media. How much of this conflict is because of the reasons in the given statements, and how much is caused by human nature? I could argue both sides and win or lose on the flip of a coin either argument, but consider this. The conflicts must be dealt with in a total fashion, or it will continue. India and Pakistan have fought thier wars in as many generations since thier independance from the Empire.

Why? Why won’t they leave each other alone? Who is right? War won’t determine who is right, only who is left. Consider that next time you think hatefilled thoughts about the opponents. It could very well be you next time.

Posted by Padraic Lukowski | Report as abusive

Pakistan can’t compete with India economically nor militarily and a scary thought is the international recession will doom textile exports and destroy what is left of Pakistan’s economy, leaving an attack on India as they only unifying option for government. The ISI tried to fight in Kashmir and India on the cheap by supporting the terrorists and the chickens have come home to roost. Swat valley and the northeast as well as Kashmir is contrilled by the terrorist element. A line in the sand with the Taliban or against the Taliban must be drawn by the world to force Pakistan’s hand.

Posted by Jimbo | Report as abusive

The article represents the stupidest question I have ever read. I am going to very kindly suggest the article was a quick throw-away and the writer should not get paid for it, because it was obviously meant to just occupy space, and account for her whereabouts, and satisfy holiday-period requirements.

Perhaps the US should give up the war on drugs because a dozen headless bodies were found in a northern Mexico town recently.

Equating the actions of non-state actors with ANY kind of value is to give their desperate leadership the wrong kind of importance in the world. We want to see them dead, their bodies stripped and shamed, dragged around for several days, before being mercifully cremated (not buried). Their ashes should be used as an ingredient in concrete.

No non-state actor should be elevated to any level of important consideration. Ms. MacDonald should know better. Our soldiers definitely know better. The people who attack innocent civilians ON PURPOSE, and not even by accident, deserve to be shamed. Shame on them, shame on their beliefs, shame on their families for raising such monsters. It has nothing to do with religion.

I always respected Reuters. I now know better.

Please Ms. MacDonald, go back to your New Year planning. I hope after the party, you also plan on getting a new job. I can’t believe Reuters is paying you for such tripe.

Posted by Robert Pratt | Report as abusive

a. I think the Afghanistan plans are vital and should be implemented. America’s statecraft is facing the law of averages. whereas it achieved tremendous success nurturing rogue elements during the cold war the mess that left over after the soviet collapse needs some cleaning and I think US would do it if it eyes supremacy in international power game.

b. Pakistan’s policy on dealing with terrorism is self destructive. Pakistan would continue to be a global problem, if US does not act in Afghanistan. Regarding the conflict with India, I think there are only two possibilities I. The average Pakistani comes out of the state of perennial denial about their state’s ties with extremists and holds their defense and state accountable or II. Pakistan will implode upon itself and be something like Somalia. In both scenarios India will have an easy answer to the equation ….. only as long as the rugged terrains of Afghanistan are sterilized.

I think US realizes the futility of supporting Pakistan as long as it has a lame democracy and a shady defense establishment. So it would continue with Afghan plans. And as Obama said – if they(Pakistan) cannot or will not take him we will take him..applies to all forms of Bin-Ladens. They have kept the option of neutralizing the rogue elements in Pakistan open.

Posted by patel | Report as abusive

“In india more than 150,000 employees get laid off from thier employement so far see how many more – source “The observernt”

Any news of retrenchment in Pakistan so far – NO.”

Hey ‘peace’ thats because the only people employed in pakistan are the fundamentalists/tesrrorists/islamists and their work does not depend on anything,much less the global economy!

Posted by Karthik | Report as abusive

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