Great, just great. Afghanistan's supposed president Hamid Karzai is now threatening to send Afghan troops across the border into Pakistan to hunt down Taliban insurgents. From the New York Times:
"Karzai said Afghanistan has the right to self defense, and because militants cross over from Pakistan ''to come and kill Afghan and kill coalition troops, it exactly gives us the right to do the same.''
Speaking at a Sunday news conference, Karzai warned Pakistan-based Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud that Afghan forces would target him on his home turf. Mehsud is suspected in last year's assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
''Baitullah Mehsud should know that we will go after him now and hit him in his house,'' Karzai said.
''And the other fellow, (Taliban leader) Mullah Omar of Pakistan should know the same,'' Karzai continued. ''This is a two-way road in this case, and Afghans are good at the two-way road journey. We will complete the journey and we will get them and we will defeat them. We will avenge all that they have done to Afghanistan for the past so many years.''
It's hard to say whether Karzai's threats were for domestic consumption or to appeal to American ears but, either way, it's nonsensical. His fledgling army isn't remotely big enough for its main task of defending Afghanistan territory and far less than half the size of the highly trained and well equipped forces that Pakistan has itself previously sent into the tribal lands in failed attempts to tame the militants.
This probably sounds sensible to someone not burdened with the history of the rivalry between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Durand line, Indian meddling, Pakistan's political turmoil and so many other complicating factors.
An Afghan force would quickly find itself swarmed not only by the militants but also by the tribesmen and, quite probably, by the Pakistani military. Unlike the Afghanis, the Pakistanis are already geared up to fight a major war - with India. They have huge numbers, first-rate training, and all the high-tech toys from assault helicopters to artillery to jet strike fighters. The new Pakistani government would be unable to resist popular pressure to repel Afgan invaders. Karzai's force would come out beaten and bloodied, if not destroyed outright.
My guess is that Karzai is desperate and sees his hopes of retaining the presidency in the upcoming elections fading fast. He also could use a distraction to divert the focus from the humiliating Taliban raid on his main prison in southern Afghanistan. But, if he does act irrationally, it could expand the war enormously, a prospect for which neither the Americans nor NATO is prepared.