June 26th, 2011
03:21 PM ET

Fareed's Take: Pakistan holds the key to peace in Afghanistan

This week, we got a real insight into the way Barack Obama's strategic mind works.

From his campaign on, Obama has clearly felt that the United States has a lopsided foreign policy with too large a military commitment to certain crisis points on the globe.

He has wanted to rebalance American foreign policy to shift the focus away from the problems of the past - Iraq and Afghanistan - and toward the challenges of the 21st Century - the rise of China and Asia more generally.

This week he made good on those ideas, announcing a significant drawdown of troops from Afghanistan and effectively reversing the surge that began 18 months ago.

When he came into office, the United States had almost 200,000 troops engaged in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

By next year it will have half that number, most of them in non-combat operations. Some would wish this drawdown was slower, others faster, but Obama has basically made the right call.

The United States cannot disengage instantly from a war it has fought for a decade with allies from dozens of other countries, international institutions, and commitments made to those allies and the Afghan people. Henry Kissinger once said getting out of a war is not like switching off the channel on a television set.

I understand that General Petraeus and other key advisers wanted a smaller drawdown to consolidate the gains that American forces have made in Afghanistan. But there will never be the perfect time.

Afghanistan is a troubled country in which some progress has been made. But parts of the country remain unsettled, beyond Kabul's control and with some Taliban control. That would be true now; it will be true two years from now.

The Taliban cannot be defeated purely militarily. They will reconstitute.

At some point, you will have to find a way to bring them into the governing structures of the country. They are an indigenous force in Afghanistan, representing part of the large Pashtun community.

The much bigger problem with stabilizing Afghanistan is that the solution does not lie in the number of American troops or Afghan troops.

It lies with getting Pakistan - specifically the Pakistani army - to cooperate in this endeavor.  Right now the signs in that direction are troubling.

There are signs everywhere that the Pakistani military has been infiltrated by radical Islamists who view the Taliban as their natural allies and the United States and the west as their natural enemies. This week, a brigadier general was arrested for his ties to the extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir.

Last month, well armed militants stormed an important naval base in Karachi - an operation that clearly required internal help.

Also last month, a brave Pakistani journalist who had detailed this Jihadi infiltration into the military was tortured and killed almost certainly by the Pakistani Intelligence Services, which does deny it.

And, of course, Osama Bin Laden could not have been happily ensconced in a villa in an army cantonment without some help from some elements of the Pakistani military.

The Pakistani military has been trying to deflect attention from these problems by stoking anti-Americanism at home. It has been trying to cozy up to China. It has been trying to thwart or sabotage any serious investigation into its problems.

If it continues on this path - a path of conflict, isolation and geopolitical games - it will mean backwardness for Pakistan and it will mean no peace for Afghanistan.


soundoff (286 Responses)
  1. loveamerica

    folks

    PLEASE REMEMBER, PAKISTAN WITH ALL ITS FAULTS IS ONE OF A HANDFULL OF COUNTRIES SHEDDING ITS BLOOD FOR US.

    WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME AN INDIAN SOLDIER DIED FOR USA????

    THEY SAY PAKISTAN HAS A NEGATIVE VIEW OF USA.?? PAKISTAN JUST LOST ITS SANITY FOR USA. A PEACEFUL COUNTRY NOW BEING BOMBED DAILY FOR OUR CAUSE !!!!

    LETS BE THANKFUL.

    AND INDIANS LIKE CURIOUS MIND WILL KEEP VENOMIZING OUR MINDS FOR THEIR GAINS.

    INDIAN JOURNALISTS ARE BRAINWASHIGN US WITH THIS "DATA" ABOUT US DISLIKE. WHAT COUNTRY CAN HATE YOU AND DIE FOR YOU IN THE SAME TIME????????

    INDIANS WILL BLEED US DRY OVER TIME.

    ONE DAY MY BROTHERS IN USA, WE WILL LOOK BACK AND CURSE INDIA FOR ALL OUR MONETARY LOSES.

    KNOW YOUR ENEMIES MY FRIENDS.

    THEY TAKE OUR JOBS. THEY BURN CHRISTIANS IN THEIR COUNTRY. INDIANS ARE HATERS.
    AND WHO ARE WE BLAMING HERE????

    LOL.

    June 28, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Reply
  2. curious mind

    Give me one reason why Kashmir is so important for Paks, is it stopping them from crushing Talibans or stabilize Afghan? By the way do USA wants to use their service again in future for similar Soviet like issue, let us suppose another rogue communist country? I can hear loud and clear NO.

    June 29, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Reply
    • Jeff

      Curios mind, you are a very typical indian who is not aware of any history other than the hindutva propaganda they teach in your schools. You should be curious about why you are so ill-informed. Furthermore, dont let no one tell you there are no stupid questions because yours are fairly incoherent mixed with ignorance and stupidity. You must be one of those billion indian idiots I ran into while travelling through banglore, delhi etc.

      You know why conflicts arise and exists, it is because of greed and ignorance as depicted by indians like you.

      June 30, 2011 at 11:15 am | Reply
  3. Ahmed-Bombay

    Zakaria is a pr-pakistani Bastartd. he is anti indian, anti american, pakistania, and islamic pig.

    November 6, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Reply
1 2 3 4 5

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,680 other followers