Home Opinion Op-Ed ‘More to do’ is the new ‘do more’

‘More to do’ is the new ‘do more’

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Imran Jan |

General Joseph Votel, Commander of the US Central Command, said of Pakistan, “I do acknowledge that they have done a lot in their own country” but “there is more to do and it is those specific areas right there where we are seeking their closest assistance”. I agree, there is always more to be done because the Afghanistan quagmire doesn’t seem to be escapable. This new demand from General Votel may seem like the usual repetition of ‘do more’ but is actually not.

General Votel has said that Pakistan needs to ensure ceasing cross-border attacks from Pakistan into Afghanistan “by making absolutely sure that there are no instructions, direction, and other things coming from Taliban leadership that remains in Pakistan to their fighters on the ground.” He further said, “They [Pakistan] need to ensure that there can be no movement back and forth and that the fighters can’t come back into Pakistan to get aid or medical care or other things with that.”

The mere semblance of discipline in their ranks would be destroyed by cutting off their links with their leadership. It would become a completely decentralized militia.

Basically, the strategy or the demand from Pakistan is to cut the links between the Taliban fighters on the ground in Afghanistan and their leadership allegedly residing or enjoying a safe haven inside Pakistan. Then General Votel further demands that the Pakistanis “need to use their influence with the Taliban to force the Taliban leadership to come to the table.” Now, let us step back and look at all of this. There are basically two demands; cut off the links and bring the Taliban leadership to the negotiating table.

Read more: US urges Pakistan to ‘Do More’

The latter one is to talk peace with the Afghan government. This strategy sounds great on paper. The General should know better. I am no soldier and even I can tell how flawed and fatal this route can prove to be. Imagine the Taliban fighters on the ground are cut off from their leadership allegedly in Pakistan. They are no more able to get money, instructions, weapons, healthcare, and so forth. Remember this is not a conscripted army, where each Taliban member is by law required to do a tour of the Afghan battlefield. These are ideologically and religiously driven people.

And their main demand is for the occupation forces to leave their soil. So let us assume Pakistan cuts off their links completely. Now imagine what the ideologically and religiously driven fighters on the ground would feel if their leadership is pressured to sit down for negotiations with the Afghan leadership, whom the Taliban considered as satraps of those who have occupied their country. This is a ragtag militia. This is not some disciplined army where orders always flow top to bottom.

The strategy or the demand from Pakistan is to cut the links between the Taliban fighters on the ground in Afghanistan and their leadership allegedly residing or enjoying a safe haven inside Pakistan.

It’s not that the Taliban leadership will say let us go talk to the Americans and their local satraps and all the fighters would toe the line on command. Instead, a huge majority of them would feel betrayed and become even more violent and uncontrollable. The mere semblance of discipline in their ranks would be destroyed by cutting off their links with their leadership. It would become a completely decentralized militia. Even the ones fighting for money will go berserk because their financial links would be cut.

Read more: No More ‘Do More’

It doesn’t require a genius to predict that it would merely create further chaos inside Afghanistan. We have seen this movie before. When the Afghan Mujahedeen were left to their own devices after the Soviets marched back from Afghanistan, they became warlords creating further instability. General Votel also said, “We need them to help lower the violence in Afghanistan.” I thought that was a job the United States took upon itself.

Never mind that violence was increased many folds because of the Whack-A-Mole strategy. General Votel said, “Those are the two things that we have continued to emphasize with Pakistan”. Well, here is a free tip; it doesn’t work that way. Either, links would have to be cut and then seatbelt fastened for the ensuing chaos, or else keep the links alive for a gradual negotiated American exit. The two strategies are mutually exclusive.

The writer is a political analyst. He can be reached at imran.jan@gmail.com. Twitter @Imran_Jan. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.


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