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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Syed Saleem Shahzad: Pakistan's peace deals offer US a pointer

The Obama Admin. is cool to the "Mayor" of Kabul. Now they are looking for another "Mayor" as is clear from this report by SSS. Securing Kabul, rebuilding some institutions, saviong face, and withdrawing US forces seems to be the new mantra. Will it work? ~~~t

Top American experts believe the results of any increase in troop numbers will be difficult to assess before the summer of 2010. In the event of failure, the US will have few options left, because sending another 30,000 troops would present a political challenge. The US already has 65,000 troops in the country following a recent injection of 17,000. The US wants to focus these troops on areas where they can make a real difference, that is, around Kabul, and not in southwest Helmand province. This will allow the allies to build sustainable Afghan institutions and eventually withdraw their military forces. On Sunday night, Obama told the CBS program 60 Minutes that "what we're looking for is a comprehensive strategy" for Afghanistan. "There's got to be an exit strategy. There's got to be a sense that this is not a perpetual drift."

But the Taliban have regrouped and control large areas, including around the capital and a second tier behind that, as well as all the important provinces in the south. Since 2001, Pakistan has had to suffer on the battlefield before striking peace deals. The US, too, has had a tough fight and striking Pakistan-like deals with the Taliban, before an exit strategy, is perhaps the only way forward.


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