Af-Pak: The Eagle Trapped ?
“Let’s get the hell outta here” is the sentiment behind the exercise seeking negotiations to secure needed assurances and guarantees from sinister unholy characters
SS Rao Sohoni Kabul
Unless one electsto remain in denial, it is to be noted that in Afghanistan the decade-old war, between two sets of external powers: the US and its NATO partners on the one hand, and on the other: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and various insurgent groups with headquarters in Pakistan, has transitioned to a stage beyond a stalemate.
Till recently, the armed opposition were far from being able to overcome the US-led military coalition; and the US-led coalition was unable to suppress the insurgency.
For ten years and more, the US had leaned on Pakistan for a range of facilitation; and in turn, Pakistan received from the US: military, political and financial aid and support.
Whilst keeping up appearances of being allies, close allies to boot, the US and Pakistan operated in noteworthy respects as antagonists -- whether covertly or openly.
This bizarre contradiction, basic to the Afghanistan theater, remained the bane of the war, throughout.
There was chronic chagrin in NATO circles at the safe haven and support provided to insurgency from Pakistan and the refusal of the Pakistan Army to act against key insurgent concentrations in Pakistan.
The Marines operation on May 2, 2011 in Abottabad, certain drone strikes, and the US helicopter gunships counterattack on the Salala Outpost on November 26, 2011, likewise infuriated the Pakistanis.
After Abbottabad and Salala, and with Pakistan closing the supply land routes from Karachi via Torkham and Chaman to Afghanistan, the basic contradiction underlying the conflict in Afghanistan, which accounts as much for its protracted duration as for its frustrations, stands exposed in full glare. More than two months on, there is little sign of the supply routes interdiction easing, other than CENTCOM Chief, Gen. Mattis being scheduled to meet with Pakistan Army Chief, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani later this month.
Military and political observers are not unaware, but the western news media have thus far, understandably, been slow to report that the US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan now face disturbing supply challenges in Afghanistan.
The position of US/NATO forces, as a matter of fact, in terms of supply logistics, is incomparably more endangered than that of the Soviet armed forces during the Mujahideen war.
Soviet forces had executed a smooth and uneventful exit in 1989 by secure rail and land routes through terrain dominated and controlled by them
Soviet forces had executed a smooth and uneventful exit in 1989 by secure rail and land routes through terrain dominated and controlled by them.
For the US-led NATO however, a vulnerable and untenable military situation has come to pass – with the southern supply routes shut, and dependence compelled on the Northern Distribution Network -- involving freight transport to Afghanistan via Baltic Sea ports, traversing Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asian republics, repetitive freight loading, unloading and loading for movement by railways, road and shipping – for transfers including across the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea – and that too only for non-lethal transport, and even that only on the way in towards Afghanistan.