Washington: The United States` new strategy on Afghanistan aims at "disrupting, dismantling and defeating" al Qaeda network in Pakistan and degrading any ability they have to plan and launch global terrorist attacks, according to a set of 46 fresh benchmarks given to Congress.
The three-page unclassified draft document placed in Congress by top officials of the Obama administration talks of holding of decision to send more troops to Afghanistan and banks heavily on clearing al Qaeda terrorists from Pakistan.
The document said the goal of the US is to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future.
But it has exasperated an already sceptical Congress, with lawmakers describing the administration`s latest road map for winning the war as amounting too little too late.
The benchmarks outline how the administration plans to track success in the war against insurgents in Afghanistan and the effort to hunt terrorists inside Pakistan. The top American goal for the region is described as disrupting terrorist networks in Afghanistan "and especially Pakistan”.
The second set of goals pertains to Pakistan and includes assistance in efforts to enhance civilian control and stable constitutional government there, develop its counterinsurgency capabilities, continue to support its efforts to defeat terrorist and insurgent groups and involve international community more actively to forge an international consensus to stabilise the country.
The third set of objectives applying to Afghanistan include defeating the extremist insurgency, securing the Afghan populace and developing increasingly self-reliant Afghan security forces that can lead the counterinsurgency and counter-terrorism fight with reduced US assistance.
The draft seeks to promote a more capable, accountable and effective government in Afghanistan that serves the Afghan people and can eventually function, especially regarding internal security, with limited international support and involving the international community more actively to forge an international consensus to stabilise the war-torn nation.
For each of these objectives, the Obama administration has developed a set of metrics to gauge progress toward meeting it.
For months, the focus of Obama administration has been on whether to commit more troops to Afghanistan as Congress is divided on the issue and the president is faced with mounting pressure on what to do next, both from war weary public and from lawmakers.
Now the Obama administration says under the new bench marks success will have to show how much percentage of the population has been freed from insurgents’ control.
Though most of the documents are unclassified, the administration has kept secret the plans how to disrupt terrorist networks in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It has also kept under wraps the counter terror objectives.
Other benchmarks on that goal are the ability of Afghan security forces to assume "lead security responsibility" and the "level of corruption" within those forces.
The document stated that the administration would assess progress at "regular intervals", with the first assessment due March 30, 2010.
A "red team" on the National Intelligence Council would conduct its own assessment as a check on the first one, it said.
For Pakistan, some of the metrics include effectiveness of Pakistani civilian, intelligence and military in conducting counter-insurgency operations across the clear-hold-build phases to defeat insurgent groups; level of militant-initiated violence; extent of militant-controlled areas in Pakistan and effectiveness of Pakistani border security efforts.