Fighting against insurgents in Afghanistan, Pakistan may get worse before going better

October 1st, 2008 - 1:35 pm ICT by ANI  


London , Oct 1 (ANI): The fight against the Taliban and Al Qaeda insurgents in Afghanistan and Pakistan might get worse before it got better, said the new head of the US Central Command, Gen. David H. Petraeus, who as the US commander of forces in Iraq oversaw the troop surge that reduced violence there.

Obviously the trends in Afghanistan have been in the wrong direction, and I think everyone is rightly concerned about them, Petraeus said last week. He takes up his job as commander of all American forces in the Middle East and Afghanistan on Oct. 31.

About the situation in Pakistan he said: The heartening aspect is there appears to be a willingness on the part of the Pakistani government and military to undertake the kind of operations necessary. he said he recognized Pakistans determination to handle the problem of extremism using its own forces, as well as its opposition to US military intervention, and added it was to be applauded and helped. He also he welcomed the Pakistan governments recent public recognition that extremism was now the most severe threat facing the country, because that recognition meant it would be adopted through all government institutions.

Certainly in Afghanistan , wresting control of certain areas from the Taliban will be very difficult, he said and added that turning things around in Afghanistan and Pakistan would require taking away militant sanctuaries and strongholds that the insurgents would defend tenaciously, reported the New York Times.

He added that the same went for Pakistan , where, according to him, extremism presented a deadly threat, particularly highlighted by the recent Marriott Hotel bombing. In both places, in certain areas, the going may be tougher before it gets easier, he added.

Gen Petraeuss experience in Iraq has allowed him to develop a comprehensive approach to fighting the counterinsurgency. But, the general was careful not to take any lessons from Iraq too hastily, and said that he would not be directing things in Afghanistan and Pakistan with a several-thousand-mile screwdriver from Central Command. People often ask — What did you learn from Iraq that might be transferable to Afghanistan — The first lesson, the first caution really, is that every situation like this is truly and absolutely unique, and has its own context and specifics and its own texture. Counterinsurgents have to understand that in as nuanced a manner as possible, and then with that kind of understanding try to craft a comprehensive approach to the problems.

He said counterterrorism operations in Iraq were just one small part of that approach, among other efforts, which could include tribal Awakening Councils, jobs programs, efforts at reconciliation and diplomatic relations with neighboring countries.

For Afghanistan , he spoke of increasing international forces and what he called thickening local forces as well, through greater political engagement of tribes and reconciliation with fighters who were not hard-core. There was also the need to engage countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia , to help with the Taliban, he added.

Stressing on the need to work closely with Afghan leaders on all elements of strategy, he said: There has to be as much unity of effort achieved in the overall international effort in complete conjunction with the national government as this moves forward.

Yet some of the Iraq experience is already being examined in the Afghan context, he said, in particular the success of the Awakening Councils, and persuading former insurgents to reconcile and work against Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, could work in Afghanistan and was already under consideration there, General Petraeus said. (ANI)

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