Los Angeles: Unless the United States can persuade Pakistan to deny refuge to insurgents, there will be no victory for American troops in Afghanistan, an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times has said.
It also says that the United States has to get Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai to provide for his citizens to draw support away from the Taliban to ensure victory.
According to the article, General David H Petraeus` arrival in Kabul this week should be a good time to revisit the goals and challenges confronting nearly 100,000 American troops there.
The strategic goal as defined by the Obama administration is to prevent Afghanistan from being used as a base by al Qaeda or other groups that seek to attack the United States and its allies, as it was during the Taliban`s rule and 9/11 strikes.
To that end, Afghan and international forces are trying to rout the Taliban insurgency and help create a stable government in the capital of Kabul.
While acknowledging the enduring strength of the Taliban combatants, General Petraeus has said he will stick with the counterinsurgency strategy that he helped design and his predecessor implemented.
Clearly, there isn`t time to change course in the 12 months left before President Obama`s July 2011 target for beginning to draw down US forces.
Petraeus knows that the problems are not strictly military. Force alone will not defeat the Taliban.
Since the troop buildup began early this year, the US military has launched an offensive in the Taliban stronghold of Helmand province that flagged when the government of President Hamid Karzai was unable to come in behind with adequate security and civilian services.
Because of that failure, a second offensive in the city of Kandahar has been postponed. But even if it goes forward, it is likely to have limited effect.
As long as the Taliban can count on supply routes and sanctuaries in Pakistan, it can fall back, regroup and fight again.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s strategic goal is to have more influence with Kabul than does India, its historic enemy and political obsession.
The Obama administration would like to see better relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan, though not a Pakistani puppet government in Kabul.
Many of these are political considerations, not military strategy. So Petraeus and his troops can do their best on the battlefields of Afghanistan.