Sunday, June 15, 2008

Karzai Wants to Widen War

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.


Raphael Alexander said...

If the Americans could withdraw from Iraq, they could assist in a multilateral incursion into Western Pakistan. It won't happen, but that's where Omar and bin Laden are. And I thought all this was about the "war on terror".

The Mound of Sound said...

I'd guess that destabilizing Pakistan is too much to risk to make invading Waziristan a viable option. The Pakistani people showed Musharraf the price to be paid for being unduly pro-America. The new crew understands that they face the same fate if they go the same route.

Maybe the best option is to move the Durand Line to sever the tribal lands from Punjabi and Sinhalese Pakistan, form the region into separate states - Baloch and Pashtun - and then deal with them on their own. Won't happen, of course, but there is no good answer to the homelands problem and invasion is about the worst of a bad lot.

We can't keep these guys from overrunning a major prison in our own backyard in Kandahar. Imagine how much more difficult it would be to conquer the Khyber.

WesternGrit said...

... And looks strangely similar to the "Love Guru" in this picture...

Gotta ask him though... where's the love?

LeDaro said...

MoS, you're right. It is a joke. Americans cannot take the risk to expand the war into Pakistan as they are in a deep quagmire in Iraq already. Karzai does not even completely control Kabul and he wants to conquer Pakistan now. Yeah right.

Anonymous said...

go into pakistan??? with what, the local flies, the maire of kabul is hardly in any position to make such statements,...he is a powerfull idiot in his own mind...him and his war lord buddies...