The 21st Century Phenomenon



AfPak is a word composed from the first letters of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The term AfPak war comes to emphasize that the Wars in Afghanistan and the CIVIL WAR in Pakistan are one coherent war fought by two allied forces against the same enemy – the coalition of the pro-Taliban groups, manned mainly by Pashtu Tribes fighters and foreign Muslim volunteers, and that USA in Afghanistan and Pakistan faces the same threat.

Indeed the wars in Pakistan and Afghanistan are related and with profound implications on each others. Taliban fighters regularly cross the border from Pakistan to Afghanistan to launch attacks against NATO-ISAF in Afghanistan and vise versa – flee to Pakistan when under pressure in Afghanistan. Tehrik-e-Taleban in Pakistan often finds refuge among their tribesmen in Afghanistan. It is clear and obvious that without full cooperation between Pakistan and NATO in Afghanistan the efforts on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border are severely undermined. To emphasize the situation and to justify the huge military aid to Pakistan, provided by USA, commentators, security and anti-terror experts, politicians and senior officers in USA began to use the term AfPak war as part of the debate over a new strategy in Afghanistan conducted by the new Obama administration in USA and NATO since early 2009.        

There are indeed some tangent interests common to USA and Pakistan but, basically, each country is fighting a deferent war and has different interests in the AfPak war.

For USA the war in Afghanistan is a war of choice, there were and still are many other options to cope with the Islamic terror originated in Afghanistan but much more in Pakistan. USA can afford herself to loose or abandon the war. It will have huge implications on the international status of USA and the Global Jihad. But loosing the war in Afghanistan will have only minor impact on the American way of life. America lost the war in Vietnam 36 years ago but the American way of life continued to go on as usual and the economy prospered. USA is a non Muslim country with a general Christian culture, fighting 10,000 miles away from home, with a Muslim nation with a totally different culture. 

For Pakistan the war is a necessity which will define the actual way of life for all its citizens for generations to come. Pakistan is a Muslim country obliged to fight its own Muslim citizens on Pakistani soil. Unlike USA, Pakistan tried time and again to reach out for reconciliation toward its own Taliban and to achieve some sort of agreement. Even in the middle of nowadays bloodshed Pakistan still support actively a conglomerate of terror aimed against India over the Kashmir conflict. The political support in Pakistan to fight the Taliban is limited to restore Pakistan’s sovereignty within its own borders, not to support USA in Afghanistan. The more Pakistan becomes democratic the more the genuine anti-American feelings influence the real Pakistani internal politic.

Pakistan was a close ally and partner to USA during the first Afghan war against the Russians in the 80s’. The close relationship and dependency of USA on Pakistan and its notorious intelligence apparatus – ISI, brought upon large military aid to Pakistan and a readiness of USA to overlook the strong ties between the Pakistani ISI and the terror in India as well as the progress in the Pakistani nuclear program.

When the war against the Russians in Afghanistan ended USA lost its interest in Pakistan as well. There was a cut in the military aid and a growing understanding of the Indian position over the terror campaign in Kashmir conducted from Pakistan. In 1990 USA even sanctioned Pakistan over Pakistan’s refusal to abandon its nuclear activities (see – Clinton Comments).

There is no doubt that Pakistan is benefitting from the USA entanglement in Afghanistan. USA renewed and extended its military and economic aid to Pakistan, is extremely carful not to blame Pakistan over terror atrocities in India and is overlooking the terror camps in Kashmir and Punjab as long as Pakistan is fighting, at least partially, the Pakistani Taliban.

Therefore the AfPak War does not describe the real political situation in the region. It is not one war, in which Pakistan and USA are fighting together. It is two wars with totally different background and political goals fought by two totally different nations – Pakistan and USA.  


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