Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pakistan's ISI is Stepping Up

As you read these words, Al Qaeda and the Taliban—with orders from Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)—are stepping up their terrorist activities in Afghanistan. They know that the Americans are confused and uncertain about both the short and long-term future of the war. They know that President Obama is reviewing America's policy in Afghanistan. They know that if they are able to successfully mount vicious attacks to kill Americans and Europeans in Afghanistan, they can pressure America to become discouraged and to forget about the war in Afghanistan. To this purpose, they are skillfully exploiting the American media for free and to their own advantage. That is why the month of October 2009 was one of the deadliest months since the beginning of the war. 

The war in Afghanistan is taking a toll on us. We are tired and confused and disillusioned, because we don't see any light at the end of the tunnel. Statements such as "Afghanistan is the graveyard of superpowers," are made more often in the news lately, as an excuse for our problems in Afghanistan. As an Afghan, I can assure you that Afghanistan is not the graveyard of the superpowers. In the case of the Soviet Union, if Afghans were to accept that honor, make no mistake that it was only because we as a nation fought together with everything we had against the Soviets, and in point of fact, the whole world was helping us as well. 

By contrast, when the United States went to Afghanistan in 2001, perhaps 80% of the people in Afghanistan supported them. Within two and a half months, the US flag was waving even on the top of the Taliban compound. Tens of thousands of Afghan soldiers belonging to the Northern Alliance were poised to follow the Taliban and Bin Laden anywhere they had to in order to bring them to justice, free of charge. Unfortunately, and sadly, the United States, heavily influenced by Pakistan and General Musharraf, rejected their aid. When we had Bin Laden cornered in Tora Bora, even then we did not use the help of the Northern Alliance. Instead, we used the same local forces that previously were with the Taliban and ISI. That is exactly why Bin Laden escaped. Wasn't capturing Bin Laden the reason we went to Afghanistan in the first place? We are not losing the war in Afghanistan because the Taliban are making the biggest IEDs. We are losing because we made huge mistakes and we are paying the price for it now.

Can we turn this war around? Easily! To do so, we need to take action swiftly and pervasively. No, we don't need any more troop surges. We have already had too many. We need to change our policies. Here is what we need to do in order to win: (1) Pull American and NATO forces from the front line. (2) Allow the Afghans to take over. Re-enlist the same Afghans who were fighting against the Taliban before 9/11. Help them financially and with weapons. We need about 200,000 of them to replace American and NATO forces. Give them the privilege to clean their own country from the germ of the Taliban and Bin Laden. It is their country, and they will clean it. (3) We need to cut the poppies to the last plant. It is critical that we realize and understand that opium is the reason for this war. (4) We must absolutely stop talking about sharing the government with the Taliban. This is the biggest mistake we have made from day one of the war in Afghanistan. 

Instead of engaging the help of the Afghan people and pounding the Taliban out of existence, we coined the term "moderate Taliban" and started to share the government with them. We confused the Afghan people. Today, 90% of Afghans think that the US is in league with the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Afghans also believe that if the US wants to capture Bin Laden, we can do it easily, and that the only reason that we have not done so is that Bin Laden is with us. The Afghan people believe that Americans will soon leave and then the Taliban will come back with a deadly vengeance. They fear for their lives—and rightly so—and therefore they will not dare to side against the Taliban. We need to regain their trust. If we fail to do all of the things I have listed in this article, we could send a million more troops and it would not do one bit of good. Soon the US will leave Afghanistan just like the Russians, broken and frustrated.

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