Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Afghanistan dimensions not helpful 

The situation in Afghanistan remains grim and as far as our own party response is concerned we seem more and more bogged down in conventional fogs, unfortunately. At conference today (Tuesday 19th) Tim Garden was having almost to defend the bad intelligence now admitted by the Minister of Defence underlying the UK troops deployment in the Pastun areas of Afghanistan.

Incidentially the Polish forces promised for Afghanistan are destined for very peaceful provinces in the North where the Taliban never had any local support even in the days of their power.

The recent NATO military success - and lets hope it was actually a success and not an US-military style body-count exercise – is not a reason to rush in more troops. Well, not without showing that our strategists are taking into account the whole situation…

NATO apparently is teetering on the brink of issuing an ultimatum to Pakistan on the way it is becoming even more of a safe haven for Taliban forces -but backed down. As Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid reports

President Pervez Musharraf has just signed a controversial ceasefire with the
Afghan-Pakistani Taliban living in this tribal region after his army got a
beating over the past three years, losing some 800 soldiers.
This means that hundreds of Taliban militants are being reased from custody and border posts between Pakistan and Afghanistan are being dismantled. NATO in this perspective is losing the battle for hearts and minds. And Osama bin-Laden may be well and on the move again according to this story in the Asia Times that Paul Rogers says is based on usually reliable sources.

Meanwhile in Pakistans south-westernmost province, the leader of the Balochi Nationalist party was killed in a Pakistani air raid in August – and some claim that the man concerned was something of a secularist and an anti-Taliban figure. It all gets very complicated for some reason. This account linked about Nawab Bugti may be biased, be warned.

For anther perspective see this story on an US Blog –and I cannot vouch for the background of one of the sites this links to ( I suspect that it has an Indian bias) so I am just saying that if these stories are not true then the fact that they are being disseminated is almost equally worrying. Overaching all of this is the relationship between two nuclear-armed states, India and Pakistan, who do not necessarily see our concerns as the centre of the world.

I cannot help feeling that a period of reflection is called for.

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