Obama’s Afghan Policy and Pakistan

By Bilal Qureshi

So far, in 2009 alone, 9000 Pakistanis have died in Pakistan because of terrorism – that is bombings, suicide attacks and other acts of extreme violence against Pakistan, and Pakistani society by the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Yes, 9000 (nine thousand) Pakistanis have died because of terrorism in 2009 alone. This terrorism according to Pakistan is the direct result of failed American strategy in Afghanistan.

Long before Obama’s speech, everyone knew that Obama is going to send additional troops. It was also known that Obama would talk tough, demand accountability, ask the Afghans to take more responsibility, etc. and, this is precisely what Obama said. Sadly, it was also believed that right after the speech, the focus would automatically shift to Pakistan because it is easy to find excuses for failures. And regretfully, this is how it played out here in America – radio, television, and newspapers are full of analysis, opinions and news that unjustifiably link American inability to win in Afghanistan with Pakistan’s ‘failed efforts’ to control Afghan Pakistan border. And you know how people in Pakistan respond to this border question now? Ha ha, yes, ha ha because despite having access to everything imaginable, i.e. technology, manpower, resources, and all the funding, Americans have not been able to secure its own border with Mexico, but somehow, with nothing as for as the technology, equipment and funding goes, Washington and the media pundits want Pakistan to miraculously succeed where Americans have failed. Is it fair?

Of course not.

The situation is Afghanistan is not good and we know it. It is also a fact that Afghanistan has been deteriorating for years, and this has directly disturbed Pakistan. Today’s Pakistan is different from 2002’s Pakistan and the same can be said of Afghanistan. Therefore, it is a reality that the United States has dropped the ball when it comes to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Now, after years of neglect, it is almost comical to suggest that 30, 000 more troops would transform Afghanistan.

It just doesn’t make any sense.

So, here is what happens if you look at the history of Afghan war so far. Things get tough in Afghanistan, everyone starts blaming Pakistan. Taliban gain momentum and strength in Afghanistan, and the pressure is mounted on Pakistan to ‘do more.’ In other words, Pakistan is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Even though Pakistan has launched two wars against the Taliban within Pakistan’s borders, somehow, Pakistan is still accused of not doing enough.

Interestingly, or perhaps ironically, almost everyone is unhappy with Obama’s decision to send additional troops to Afghanistan. And to be fair, Obama’s choices were awful anyway. If he withdraws, he is accused of surrendering to the enemy. If he adds troops like he announced last night, it does not guarantee success in Afghanistan, regardless of how success is defined. So, it is lose lose for Obama from the start – whatever decision he was going to make, people were going to have issues with it. And obviously, adding 30, 000 troops to a country that has been at war in one way or the other for decades is not going to yield anything positive if we look at the history of Afghan war so far.

On the other hand Pakistan is paying a terrible price for America’s failures in Afghanistan. Bombings, suicide attacks and growing anti-Americanism among the civilian population in Pakistan is alarming. And when Islamabad tries to present a different point of view to Washington, their view is not taken seriously. Simply dismissing views that make Washington uncomfortable, especially criticism from Islamabad must be understood in the right context. But, instead of listening to Pakistan, Pakistan is asked to ‘do more.’

Talk about a brilliant strategy to win (read lose) hearts and minds.

Yes, it is critical to succeed in Afghanistan, no question about it. But at the same time, It is equally important to help Pakistan crush the militants. And currently, America runs the risk of losing Pakistan while the policy makers here in Washington focus heavily on Afghanistan. Today, most of Washington’s energy, money and time is being consumed by Afghanistan, when in fact, Washington’s top priority should be Pakistan. Pakistanis have seen enough speeches. Now, It is time to act.



Filed under Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Army, North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan, Politics, Taliban, USA, war, War On Terror

52 responses to “Obama’s Afghan Policy and Pakistan

  1. Natasha

    //Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi Tuesday urged United States that it should stay in Afghanistan till accomplishment of the mission, report said.

    The Nation – december 1. //

    Do you expect America to listen to these Pakistanis and take them seriously?Americans have realized that they can NOT win this war.The surge in troops is probably to please only those American fools who still believe that they can achieve their objectives by sending more sacrificial goats.I don’t know what is the need to please the losers by issuing such statements.Why would Americans take you into confidence and give importance to your stance when they know the only thing you’re good at is bootlicking?

    Washington’s top priority is indeed Pakistan – only when it comes to finding excuses of losing this war.

    We got rid of the terrorists from the Malakand division within months.Operation raah-e-nijaat is being persued successfully as well.We are indeed better than that pussy alliance of the ‘flagbearers of human rights and democracy’ that despite pretending to change the destiny of Afghanistan(and the world) have still not been able to achieve their objectives.Large parts of Aghanistan are still being controlled by the Taliban – terrorism has mulitplied the world over and Pakistan has been the biggest casualty .If they still chose to blame us for their failures , they chose to let go of the little support that they still had in some Pakistani circles.

    This spineless government should now atleast try to shut their ‘abba’ .


  2. Its time now that American people take stock of the actions of their government and judge the wisdom of invading Iraq and Afghanistan where failure after failure has now started to haunt their government. Any bad move now in Afghanistan would have far reaching effects on Pakistan, the same way when the Americans abandoned Taliban after Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan.

  3. Milind Kher

    Raahe nijaat has come a little too late. Which is why, even as it is being pursued, terrorists are still carrying out deadly strikes.

    A very unpleasant truth is that till the operation becomes a thumping success, Pakistan is going to be asked to do “more”. The US has over decades invested very heavily in Pakistan and it wants the bang for its buck.

  4. Natasha

    Pakistan has paid a bigger price for this war.They can shove that ‘do more’ in their whatever.

    We’ve been much more successful than them.

  5. Sudarshan

    Pakistan is epicenter of World Islamic Terrorism.

    Bush did one mistake- he should have invaded Pakistan instead of Afghanistan.

    Anyway, its coming in the coming decades.

  6. Natasha

    Copyright: Chaddi dreams unlimited.

  7. Sudarshan

    >>Copyright: Chaddi dreams unlimited.

    That’s the only cost effective way to wipe out Jihad and Jihadis.

  8. Natasha

    It’s been 6o plus years and you’re still striving , still dreaming – try try until you succeed.

  9. omar ali

    Pakistan is very slowly starting to break away from a failed ideology and obsession (jihadism and irrational zero-sum competition with India). But given how that ideology had a monopoly on official channels of communication and education for so long, it still has many adherents. The news always takes a while to filter into a mind that is not prepared to receive it.
    In 8 years many civilian politicians and observers have already abandoned huge chunks of the old PMA view of the world. The rest is a matter of time. Slowly, it will happen….there is no other choice. The alternative is a bigger war (because that ideology has no other possible outcome…it is not compatible with regional peace or world peace. Those who are only midly contaminated by unexamined chunks of that ideology may not see it that way, but the high priests (Hamid Gul, Zaid Hamid and so on) have all openly stated that they foresee a huge war with terrible casualties, but with eventual victory for “haq”. You guys dont take them seriously, but I urge you to do so, if only as a thought experiment….its an enlightening experience.

  10. Rabia

    I hope you are right. But there are so many Pakistanis who see nothing wrong with cheering for the Afghan Taliban, that one is pessimistic that the shift has been against the ideology rather than just a shift of convenience against the TTP.

  11. Hossp

    Omar is right. People are changing and as always changes take some time. During the last eight years the US allowed the Taliban to rebuild their position after routing them in 2001. Some folks here have no clue and follow the politics as it appears in US media. In the last eight years the mighty US army and the mightiest US intelligence agencies have not been able to figure out who is supplying arms to the Taliban on both sides of the border and the two US presidents had the audacity to lie before the world. The US is not an innocent party in this deal.

    Abusing and accusing poor, uneducated people of Pakistan of supporting the taliban by some dimwits does not mean that the poor folks are guilty as charged.

    For the last eight years the US is providing whatever Pakistan army needs but unbelievably, the US still does not have enough influence to even ask the pak army too find OBL, if he is still in Pakistan as they claim.

    Today, Hillary Clinton, before the congress, quoted Hamid Karzai as telling her that President Bush and people in his administration told him not to go after OBL and Mullah Omar.

    US intelligence can set up a network to grab Sadam Hussein but they can’t do that for OBL or Omar. We know how things work in FATA and Afghanistan and even Pakistan, if the US wanted it these two would have been apprehended a long time ago.

    Only some idiots blame “so many” Pakistani who see nothing wrong with Taliban. In the last eight years, the US could not figure out some basic stuff about the Taliban and here idiots believe that some poor, uninformed Pakistanis should know what they are.

  12. Hossp

    Only yesterday the all powerful President of the United States went before the world and announced withdrawal from Afghanistan to begin in July 2011. Today his spokesman confirmed that the President said the date is set in Stone.
    “After the briefing, Gibbs went to the president for clarification. Gibbs then called me to his office to relate what the president said. The president told him it IS locked in – there is no flexibility. Troops WILL start coming home in July 2011. Period. It’s etched in stone. Gibbs said he even had the chisel.”

    The secretary of Defence claimed, “The July 2011 date is the date on which we begin to transfer authority and responsibility to Afghan security forces,” Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, before adding that “the pace, the size of the drawdown, is going to be determined in a responsible manner based on the conditions that exist at the time.”

    The National security advisor claimed, “Garrett: So it’s fixed not aspirational?

    Jones: It is somewhat conditions-based, but we believe that the strategy that’s been agreed to, which will involve the Pakistanis doing things on their side of the border”
    Gen. Petreous on National TV claimed (paraphrasing) nothing is set in stone.

    An administration that has no control over its message, and where the President and his cabinet officers are promoting their own agenda, cannot and will not not be able to defeat the Taliban. Pakistan will have to chalk its own course as these idiots in DC don’t understand each others language and agenda.

    Just who is running the show in DC?

  13. VIC

    Dear Innocents,

    You will never get, how deep the shit is.

  14. One thing that’s obvious is that the troop surge would barely change anything except that it’s aggravate the situation on Pakistan’s side. While US has failed entirely in cleaning the border area at it’s side, it then goes on to blame Pakistan for the cross-border infiltration which again bears directly upon Pakistan’s security – and that’s shameful!
    I only wonder what Obama considered when ordaining this addition of 30000 troops to the Afghan soil. It may be a long-term regional strategy but talking short-term and considering Afghan issue alone, it barely makes sense.

  15. YLH

    As the Power grows, its proved friends will also grow; and the Wise, such as you and I, may with patience come at last to direct its courses, to control it.”

    We can bide our time, we can keep our thoughts in our hearts, deploring maybe evils done by the way, but approving the high and ultimate purpose: Knowledge, Rule, Order; all the things that we have so far striven in vain to accomplish, hindered rather than helped by our weak or idle friends. There need not be, there would not be, any real change in our designs, only in our means.”

  16. PM

    For every Vietnam the Americans need a Cambodia, after all some body got to take the blame.

    Bruce Ridel has gloom and doom article out in Outlook asking India indirectly to do something.

  17. ravinder

    71 we did something and by 75 we lost it for next 20-25 years untill 9/11 happened and the world changed for the razakars. If pakistanis confound us by their intrigue and chinese by their incredible homogeneity then americans confound us by their unique unselling point, that of incredible stupidity by the brightest of minds.

    The only three times Indians tried anything were 47 (the minimum credible way), 71 (the maximum incredible way) and in the 80s in Balochistan (the copycat way). Of these Balochistan was the only one that gave any results. It got the mullahs out of punjab. Not to suggest that this is the way for the Americans, we were merely copy pasting, the good results were entirely incidental.

    Right now the whole world is where, he who never understood the Americans was:
    “You may be sure that the Americans will commit all the stupidities they can think of, plus some that are beyond imagination” – Charles de Gaulle

    What would be the ideal position? The one where, the only person who ever understood the Americans was, when he said:
    “America will always do the right thing, but only after it has exhausted every other alternative”-Churchill.

    Let Mr. Obama exhaust his own youthful energy and the energy of his country, forever kept, oh so youthful by the brightest of immigrants (some of them good law abiding Pakistanis). They will arrive at what is best for them. And in the last 3 outings what was best for them, also turned out to be exceedingly good for the rest of the world (no disrespect meant to the Russians, it was the Communists and the world knows how to distinguish between the two).

    Indians should obviously do what they are exceedingly good at. Slowly and Steadily work towards allowing the Americans to come to their own conclusion.

    What happens to Pakistan cannot be so bad, considering the Amerikhans last 3 outings and the Pakistanis’ present phalit karm, and there sanchit karm.

  18. Sameet


    Fantastic play of words, loved it (“minimum credible”, and “maximum incredible”) and the paraphrasing of the American mind by De Gaulle and Churchill! Didnt quite understand what you mean by Pakistanis’ phalit karm and Sanchit karm though.

  19. keshto

    Take the War to Pakistan – NYT


    C.I.A. Authorized To Expand Use Of Drones In Pakistan


    Poor Pakistan is being rachetted up……

  20. vajra

    To readers at large:

    Amerikhans being standard vocabulary for hate sites, we now know where this particular set of arguments is being forged. Complete with Greek chorus.

  21. Milind Kher

    Sanchit karma in Hindu mythology is the accumulation of all the karmas of an individual.

    I am not aware of any phalit karma, although I believe that phalit is the science (?) of prediction..

  22. bushra naqi

    The American troops surge should cover more ground and catch and kill the enemy on ground, as opposed to fewer troops carrying on aerial bombings and hitting randomly, as done previously.

    We fear a troop surge for we apprehend a greater spillover across the border on our side. We certainly need much more vigilance and greater concentration of pak troops on the borders. This will be tough but we need to take care of our responsibilities.

  23. Milind Kher

    Americans are not very good at ground warfare. Their aerial warfare is par excellence though. That is why they are opting for aerial attacks. It is logical. You will always opt for something that falls within your core competency.

  24. Sudarshan

    Natasha >>It’s been 6o plus years and you’re still striving , still dreaming

    Beggers cannot be choosers.

  25. Hashmi

    Good day to all!!
    What is happening in Afghanistan is a part of a great game in which USA has been trapped. He now wants to drag India. Indians live in fools paradise and want to become regional super power initially; which is imposible in presence of China. So I’d suggest for Indian friends plz come out of day dreaming and do something for the welfare of people of subcontinent.
    Hashmi a research fellow

  26. Tauheed Ahmed

    What makes you all of you so sure that Pakistanis are brave, smart, etc. etc. and Americans are fools? Seems like this is based on a priori er..reasoning, without the burden of reality creeping in.

  27. vajra


    We stopped day-dreaming one year and a few days ago. You must look at your self in the mirror today, not for any nefarious purpose but merely as an accompaniment to congratulating yourself on the effectiveness of your wake-up call. Well done.

  28. Hossp

    So T ahmed, can you tell me one decision that US made after overthrowing the Taliban in 2001, that has been proven right?

    The sequence of errors and mistake are seriously incomprehensible considering that the previous and this admin and not only led but are also served by the most brilliant people from the Ivy League college.

    Even a dimwit like Musharaf fooled these brilliant guys, what are your hopes resting on?

  29. Hossp

    ” the previous and this admin and not only led but are also served by the most brilliant people from the Ivy League college.”
    the previous and this admin not only led but are also served by the most brilliant people from the Ivy League colleges.

  30. ravinder

    Pls don’t embarrass an artless khaki kachha accountant. I am not and cannot be a learned wordsmith. Just tried to put into a sutra a rather intimidating gap perceived by me vis-à-vis a fellow post women.

    BTW about phalit:
    The karma which has already started taking fruit is called prArabdha karma. The accumulated karma which is yet to take fruit is called sancita karma. As long as the cycle continues, more karma will be done in the future, and this is called Agamin karma.


    Phalit karma to my limited understanding can be taken as a colloquial way of referring to prarabdha karma. Probably the uncouth pagan could not pronounce the tongue twister ‘prarabdha’ properly, so as is his wont he slyly devised a new word ‘phalit’. You see words are just words nothing to let your sensibility get attached to. That is why the reasoning against Hindu-Muslim divide. Hindus don’t exist, except in the mind of those who thought hindoos exist.

    Now pappuji since you are an Indian, hence all this shouldn’t sound all – – – – – to you.

    A fellow post man has already replied to you (using rather hard words), but since India is a land of disparate pagans, kindly tolerate this pappu too. Sirji, you see pagans since the time of Gangudin have been day-dreaming. Quite by chance, it so happened that what was a day dream for Gangudin became a living breathing reality for his son pappu. Now pappu carries the same mutant genes and is not afraid of failing. You see pappu never really learnt that failure could be a curse from a god who has a tendency of tormenting the ants with a double sided convex lens. Instead the devious pappu learnt that expecting a satisfaction of desires is a luxury and he had to do something to satisfy only his needs and that was good enough. You ask me what to do? Duh, how can an artless bum who has already made peace with his inherited artlessness ever be expected to know what to do. And since the peace is already made so the failure is only to be expected and there really is no point hating failure. Pappu doesn’t know what to do so he is open to the idea of trying out everything in whatever permutations and combinations. Also please note that pappus happen to number about a billion so all the pappus can actually afford, to attempt catching the moon. All we pappus after all need is just one of our bum kind to reach the moon. Sirji, you see the economies of scale coupled with acceptance of possibility of failure tripled with govinda from bollywoodistan, tadka lag gaya ab roti sekni baaki hai, haat jale to kya, khana chod dein.

  31. neel123

    @ Natasha,
    ” Pakistan has suffered more to terrorist attacks than anyone else” – is a common argument now a days in Pakistan.
    Well, that is not a great favour done to the whole world, because Pakistan has been systematically breeding these terrorists of different hue, since atleat two decades.

    ” Pakistan needs no lecture, because it has lost more than anyone, in the fight against terror” –
    well again, it is not a great favour you Pakistanis are doing to the whole world …… ! All you are doing, is clearing a mess of your own creation…. !

    It is not rocket science, that the AfPak war can not be won without Pakistan. It does not take a PhD to understand that you can not defeat Taliban, as long as they are provided safe heaven within Pakistan, and when you are not going to hunting them down within Pakistan.

    The crux of American policy has so far been to stop that from happening, by showering billions of dollars to the Pakistani Army as bribe , since 2001.

    Billions were lost and little came in return …………

    The above failure has prompted a change in future strategy of the Americans, while the Pakistanis are busy cheering about failure of the Americans.

    The Americans by now, have realized that they have to do, what they have to do, without counting on the Pakistanis.

    Future is not easy to predict, but one thing is for sure, Pakistan will pay its share for the failure, and will be made to pay back the billions of dollars, if not in cash, in kind probably ………………

  32. Milind Kher

    A lot of people in Pakistan have acknowledged that terror camps were being run there.

    However, today the populace is paying the price for the misdeeds of numerous successive governments. Therefore, it may not be a good idea to derive pleasure from the suffering of the common people.

  33. neel123

    @ Milind Kher
    Can’t you see that, barring a few sane minds, majority of the Pakistanis are in a state of denial and try to justify everything their Army did in the past …… ?

  34. neel123

    Blogging with a few sane minds in PTH, having chat on good things and pondering on what would be ideal to solve crisis, is not going to serve the cause of Pakistan.

  35. Bloody Civilian


    majority of the Pakistanis

    why don’t you publish the results and methodology of your survey?

  36. neel123

    @ Bloody Civilian
    Not a single soul in Pakistan has so far shown the guts to speak against the Army in straight language.

    Najm Sethi was thrown behind the bars, for the slightest hint of speaking against the men in uniform.

  37. vajra


    Do you see no contradiction in stating this:

    Blogging with a few sane minds in PTH, having chat on good things and pondering on what would be ideal to solve crisis, is not going to serve the cause of Pakistan.

    and your continuing to blog here?

    If you are correct, and this is not going to serve the cause of Pakistan, why precisely do you spend your time and effort blogging at all on PTH?

    I would like your honest reply, because it doesn’t make sense, for you to spend time on futile statements and useless explanations.

  38. neel123

    @ vajra
    My writing, this time, was meant for Natasha only.

  39. Bloody Civilian


    by citing najam sethi as an example you have made it clear how little you know.

  40. Gorki

    “Not a single soul in Pakistan has so far shown the guts to speak against the Army in straight language”

    Neel, Have you by any chance ever read a post or two about the PA by a certain gent who goes by the nick Bloody Civilian or maybe seen an article written by another, some YLH on the PTH criticizing General Kiyani by name? 😉

  41. Ally

    Wow, this blog just further proves how delusional Pakistanis are. I thought their preposterous claims regarding their country were spun intentionally to solicit more money from the U.S. Turns out they actually believe the garbage. haha. Pakistan is THE creator of terrorism, violence, and mayhem in that region of the world. They were bolstered by the money they stole from the U.S. during the Soviet invasion of Afg and have been on a power trip and aid money binge ever since in order to build up their army and their subversive political tools to wreak destruction in Afg and India. If you Pakistanis think your country is innocent, you need to get your heads checked. You are anything but. I hesitate to even call you guys an Islamic country. There is nothing about the actions of Pakistan that God would approve of. A sham of a country, you are. Just some Indians who converted to Islam, stole land and people from other countries, then gave it a new name. What a joke.

  42. PM

    “A sham of a country, you are. Just some Indians who converted to Islam, stole land and people from other countries, then gave it a new name. What a joke.”
    This statement is worth framing and great basis for inter-state relations. Nehru and Gandhi must be squirming in their new abode.

  43. Sameet

    “A sham of a country, you are. Just some Indians who converted to Islam, stole land and people from other countries, then gave it a new name. What a joke.”

    Lets assume that for arguements’ sake that that is what Pakistan is. So what? Whatever be the moral basis of the country, it IS a country now, and quite a large one at that, and it DOES influence this part of the world! As an Indian, and a youthful one who doesnt care how that country came about, I am only concerned with how I can establish relationship with that country in such a way that it maximizes my (Indian) interests. Two hoots to how that country came about or if the Two Nation theory is spurious (and I believe Atal Bihari Vajpayee did just that when he visited minar-e-pakistan in lahore a decade back).

  44. Milind Kher


    Then two nation theory is usually discussed on this forum to highlight what Mr Jinnah’s thoughts were in founding Pakistan. It gives an idea of what Pakistanis are aspiring for. Other than that, nobody can affect or reverse the process.

    And you are right. Today, it is important for India to unite with Pakistan to fight a common enemy – the terrorist.

  45. vajra


    Thank you so much for that breath of fresh air. There are so many Indians who come in here and embarrass the rest of us before Pakistanis reading this that we have become cynical about new faces. It was such a pleasure reading your practical, pragmatic post.

    Do get involved. We do need more evenly balanced Indian visitors on this excellent site. I am sure that, if asked, the site’s administrators and managers would corroborate that view.

  46. PM

    I highlighted the subject statement to point out the Brahman mindset. Now some talk about “we are same people”. Show me convergence of interests. Liberal thinking alone will not bring peace. Great leader Singh is out there demonizing Pakistan every day for a year. Talk is cheap. Let’s call spade a spade.

  47. Sameet


    I believe one doesnt have to exert too much to highlight the ” Mullah” mindset too. Let not the pot call the kettle black. If Great leader Singh is demonizing Pakistan, so is Hafeez Saeed and countless Mullahs every Friday talking about planting the green banner on red fort. Just today Rehman Mallik again said India is involved in Pak (contradicted by Salman Taseer!!) You are right, lets call a khanjar a khanjar. Two can indeed play at the game.

  48. PM

    Sameet, I respect you for open and straight position. Do you still want to talk about “we are the same people”.

  49. Sameet


    I think the “we are the same people” theme is superfluous and irrelevant to the discussion at hand. There are some valid aspects to it (a north Indian is similar in pretty much every aspect to a Pakistani than say, a South Indian or a Assamese for example), but I for one would rather the Pakistanis be in Pakistan and not be part of my country. As I said in a previous post, Pakistan has shown itself to be a resilient and viable nation, and good luck to it. Just dont let citizens of your country come into my city and spray bullets at my citizens, thats all.

  50. PM

    So far so good. Now only if you would expand on cultural links to Afghanistan. This is my last post on this topic.

  51. Sameet


    I do not what you are trying to drive at here. If you are trying to make a point regarding India’s influence in Af, India should and probably is doing whatever it can to diminish Pak’s capacity to inflict its 1000 cuts on India (cultural links or no cultural links). Lets flip the question and ask, why exactly does Pakistan want to have influence in Af, and what cultural link does it have with the nomads ekeing out a living near the Amu Darya?

  52. Milind Kher

    Rather than “we are the same people”, the theme should be “we have common interests”.

    The basic common interests are that we want peace and prosperity and we both have terrorists as our enemies.