Eighteen years ago in early May, Mujahedeen resistance fighters entered Kabul, laying claim to Afghanistan’s capital after the collapse of the Communist regime. At the time, the city had not been severely damaged by warfare and Soviet occupation. The 18 years since then have not been kind to Kabul, though.Continue reading
When citizens of NATO allies look at the record of failure of military interventions in Afghanistan over the past century-and-a-half, they may be tempted to ask: “What chance of success does NATO have?” People should realize, however, that comparing the present-day stabilization mission to past military adventures is not appropriate.Continue reading
It is true that Afghanistan and Pakistan are fighting a common enemy in the Taliban and al Qaeda. But the nature of insurgency and engagement is quite different in the two countries. The Pakistani military is fighting an insurgency mainly against its own people. It’s different in Afghanistan: government forces are fighting both local militants and terrorist mercenaries that primarily infiltrate from, and are trained and equipped by, elements from across the country’s southeastern border.Continue reading
Lagging commitment on the part of donor nations has been a factor in giving the Taliban new life. According to a recent study by the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief, an astounding 40 percent of the $25 billion in aid that has been pledged to fund Afghanistan’s democratization process has not been delivered. And of the $15 billion in aid that has arrived, roughly 40 percent has gone to paying salaries and fees for Western contractors and their employees. On top of it all, officials in Afghanistan admit that they cannot properly account for how $2.5 billion in aid was spent. It all adds up to a sad fact: the Afghan people are being short changed. It’s not surprising, then, that a fair share have grown disenchanted, and that this disillusionment has provided fertile ground in which a new generation of Islamic fighters can grow, and narcotics trafficking can once again flourish.Continue reading
Over the past ten years since 9/11, event after event in and outside Afghanistan has overshadowed the need to connect with the Afghan people and to deliver on their basic expectations for peace, justice, and prosperity. Even though NATO member-states increasingly appreciate the importance of public diplomacy at home and abroad, they have largely faltered to engage and listen to the Afghan people on how to secure Afghanistan.
Present and past peace negotiations between Pakistan and the Taliban in the country’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas have coincided with increased cross-border terrorist attacks in Afghanistan. For example, terrorist attacks have risen by more than 40 percent in eastern Afghanistan within the first five months of 2008 compared to the same period last year. At the same time, the number of civilian deaths caused by cross-border terrorism rose to 638 this year, 62 percent more than the same period last year. Additionally, this past June saw the highest number of foreign military casualties with 46 coalition troops having died in clashes against the Taliban. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise, however. During similar Pakistan-Taliban peace negotiations in 2005 and 2006, Afghanistan saw a 300 percent increase in cross-border terrorist incidents. At the August 2007 Afghanistan-Pakistan Regional Peace Jirga Conference in Kabul, President Pervez Musharraf admitted that the problem existed.
Canadians are growing increasingly jittery about their country’s military participation in Afghanistan. A majority of Canadians now wonder if the political cost of maintaining troops in Afghanistan is too high. They should realize that the cost of not being there would be even higher.