REPORTS emanating from Washington say the United States is preparing to undertake a review of its strategy in Afghanistan, a year after President Donald Trump extended America’s involvement in the 17-year-old war. Officials said Trump feels frustrated over lack of progress since he unveiled a strategy last August that committed to an open-ended deployment of military advisers, trainers and special forces and increased air support for Afghan security forces. The goal was to force the Taliban to open peace talks with the Kabul government.
Disappointment of the American President is understandable as Taliban rule most of the rural Afghanistan, they are capable of striking their targets at will and despite heavy investment Afghan army is nowhere near to the goal of a force to be reckoned with. Only two days back, a Taliban attack in Kunduz district left forty Afghan soldiers dead and ten wounded. Though an official of the Trump Administration claimed that there was no question of an overarching review of the policy but a view aimed at making some adjustments to realise the goals and ensure efficient utilisation of the available resources. However, independent experts say that the United States is now short of options and it will have to change the course in Afghanistan if it is really interested in a face-saving. If a policy launched after months of discussion and debate has not paid anything worthwhile during the last one year, there is hardly any expectation of breakthrough even if there is another surge in troops or bombing is intensified. The United States is expecting its allies and partners to carry their fair share of the burden in Afghanistan by continuing to increase troop and financial contributions but there are clear signs of fatigue and frustration among most of the Western capitals because of lack of any tangible progress on the Afghan front. We have been emphasising in these columns that the policy was fundamentally flawed as instead of enlisting Pakistan’s support it focuses more on India, which is least interested to see a stable Afghanistan only because it would mean calm on Pakistan’s Western border. Instead of relying more on use of force, the United States and the Afghan government should go whole hog for dialogue with Taliban and national reconciliation for which Pakistan has always expressed readiness to extend necessary support.