Commission for Refugees, there are over 1.3 million registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan — and at least another million who are not on the books. Many thousands of Afghans who were born in Pakistan have never seen their own country. And there is little wonder that these people want to stay in Pakistan. They don’t want to go to a state that is corrupt, violent and unsafe to the point that their lives would be at risk the moment they crossed the border.
On 1 December 2017, there was another terrorist attack in Pakistan, yet again in Peshawar, and thirteen people were murdered by a combination of gunfire and suicide bombing. Security forces were speedily on the scene to deal with the criminal thugs who slaughtered innocent people, but there is no defense against savages who kill for the sake of killing.
Which brings us to a declaration by the US Secretary of Defence, retired General James Mattis, who visited Pakistan three days after the Peshawar atrocity. Following his stopover, the Pentagon’s official statement was that: “The secretary reiterated that Pakistan must redouble its efforts to confront militants and terrorists operating within the country,” which in the circumstances was not the most tactful attitude to publicize.
Mattis ignores the fact that terrorist activity in Pakistan began following the US invasion of Afghanistan. (The only suicide bombing before that time was in 1995 when two bomb-filled vehicles were exploded at the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad). As the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports, “Since 2001, Pakistan has been gripped by an internal war with the Taliban and other radical groups that has killed tens of thousands of civilians and security personnel.”
For so long as Afghanistan suffers a combination of civil war, resistance by militants (not necessarily terrorists) to foreign interference, corruption, intrigues of criminal warlords, and the excesses of barbaric terrorist groups, then Pakistan will continue to be a victim of spun-off terrorism.
As Afghanistan slides ever further downward into a cesspit of corruption and savagery, there appear to be hopes in Washington that another “surge” in US troop numbers and an increase in already numerous airstrikes will achieve the military victory promised by Donald Trump, who declared in August 2017 that “We will always win. . . Our troops will fight to win. We will fight to win. From now on, victory will have a clear definition.” But it is very difficult to see how, after sixteen years of war, the United States can prevail in this appalling conflict.
In 2012, US Army Lieutenant Colonel David Davis wrote the following about US’ presence in Afghanistan:
“The United States, along with over 40 NATO and other allied nations, possesses the most sophisticated, powerful, and technologically advanced military force that has ever hit the field of combat. We have the finest and most well trained soldiers that exist anywhere; we have armoured vehicles of every type, to include MIA2 Main Battle Tanks, artillery, mortars, advanced rockets, precision guided missiles, and hand-held rocket launchers; we have a wholly uncontested air force composed of NATO’s most advanced ground attack fighter jets, bombers, spy planes, signals-interception aircraft, B-1 bombers, attack helicopters, and massive transport jets to ferry our troops and critical supplies where they are needed; we have thousands of unmanned aerial drones both for intelligence collection and missile-launching; we have a helicopter fleet for personnel transport and attack support; we have an enormous constellation of spy satellites; logistics that are as limitless as the combined weight of the industrial world; we have every technological device known to the profession of arms; we are able to intercept virtually every form of insurgent communication to include cell phones, walkie-talkies, satellite phones, email, and even some ability to eavesdrop on otherwise private conversations; a remarkably capable cohort of intelligence analysts that are as educated, well trained and equipped to a degree that used to exist only in science fiction; and our various nations have the economic wherewithal to spend tens of billions of dollars each month to fund it all — and for almost 10 years we have pitted this unbelievable and unprecedented capability against a bunch of dudes in bed sheets and flip-flops.”
The whole might of the US-NATO military alliance failed to overcome the Taliban with their old AK 47 rifles and the bombs that they continue to explode, often suicidal, on roadsides, among hapless crowds of totally innocent civilians, against military convoys — indeed against anything or anyone they can target in order to create fear, mayhem and realization that the foreigners and the corrupt and incompetent government in Kabul cannot do anything to stop them.
The new US campaign of bombing drug production facilities and intensifying special forces and drone assassination operations in Afghanistan will not succeed. It will result in the deaths of many insurgents, but of even more civilians, no matter what may be claimed about precision bombing. Further effects of such actions will only increase alienation of the population and growth in recruitment to terrorist bands and warlords’ armies.
“The sensible course of action for the erratic Trump would be to act on his policy of 2013 when he declared that “We have wasted an enormous amount of blood and treasure in Afghanistan. Their government has zero appreciation. Let’s get out!” The US should leave Afghanistan and let Afghans go their own way.”