Since NATO-ISAF (Int. Security Assistance Force) took over command of the southern Afghan provinces on July 31, 2006, the British and Canadian soldiers in Helmand and Kandhar had almost been under intensified daily attacks by the Taliban militants. The British commanders maintain that that fighting is the fiercest since the 1950s Korean War and call it as hellfire. The so-called NATO-led security and development mission under the aegis of UN Security Council was established in Afghanistan on December 20, 2001 and has strength of about 47,000 military and civilian personnel as on April 2008. Because of the seriousness of the situation, the NATO commanders have asked the member countries to send more troops (about 7,000) as hell fuel. The ISAF has become synonymous with an international destruction assistance force (IDAF) that is there to destroy Afghanistan rather than doing any reconstruction work. This is a fallacy on which NATO is working to keep the hellfire burning in Afghanistan to serve Washington’s interests. How can the Afghans take an enemy force that is killing and destroying their country as their redeemer? It is strange logic that on the one hand you are keeping the unquenchable fire burning the entire country, while on the other hand offering them solace in return for massacring their men, women and children. From Alexander the Great to the present day, Afghans had never been subjugated by any alien force that had devastated their land, cultural heritage and traditions. And, this time around, Afghans are not going take it lying down and would fight and fight till their common enemies are finally routed. his is the historical truth that cannot be denied by any invader. Who better than the British know that their fragile conquests and humiliating defeats at the hands of the Afghans, spread over a long period between 1830 and 1919, and that also in the hey days of British Empire. After three bloody wars the British came down to their knees and signed Rawalpindi Peace Treaty that brought peace to India’s western frontier. The same drama is being replayed in the new millennium, but the main role that used be played by King’s viceroys in India, was now assumed by Mr. GW Bush, the Washington-based world’s greatest villain. And in this villainous oriented tragedy the results would be the same that met the British in India; it will once again end in tragedy and the manpower and money would be a total loss. While US attention is focused on Al-Sadr militia uprising especially in Basra, there is a sudden surge of violence in Afghanistan; a worrying situation for NATO high command that is dangerously pitched against the Taliban and al-Qaeda forces. A majority of US NATO allies are unwilling to deal with a situation that has no immediate remedy and is getting dangerous with every passing day. The renewed violence in Iraq and Washington’s decision to suspend further withdrawal of US troops from Iraq this summer making it harder for Pentagon to dispatch any more troops to Afghanistan as was earlier promised by President Bush. A posse of 3,500 Marines arrived recently in the volatile south, but they’re due to leave at year’s end with no replacements identified for the future. Currently there are indications that the militants have invoked a new strategy of avoiding direct confrontation with the NATO forces and staging attacks on comparatively easy targets like Aid Agencies and poorly trained Afghan police where they have achieved phenomenal success. Many reports from the NGOs confirm that insurgent violence has increased during the first quarter of this year and was higher than it was last year. Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the US Senate Armed Services Committee that he was deeply concerned over the economy of force operation which could not possibly be filled until conditions improved in Iraq. According to US intelligence sources, last year saw the worst bloodshed in Afghanistan since the 2001 US-led invasion that toppled the Taliban regime and drove bin-Laden and his al-Qaeda militants into Pakistan’s remote tribal region, where they allegedly re-established bases and were training terrorists and plotting renewed attacks on the Afghan and the US-led NATO forces. With Afghan presidential election on the anvil next year, there is an increased pressure on the US and NATO to contain the insurgency so that the UN could proceed with the complex balloting preparations. The future of US puppet Karzai is threatened, because the Taliban and other opposing forces are planning to launch a forceful presidential contender in the forthcoming election. The situation would be much more difficult for the occupation forces to manage polls in Karzai’s favor. The recent data issued by the ‘Afghanistan NGO Safety Office’, a group funded by the European Commission that charts security trends for NGOs, demonstrates a solid escalation of conflict within the first three months of the year as well as substantial growth over the same period of last year. There were 704 insurgent attacks from January to March this year, compared with 424 during the first quarter of 2007, the death toll has risen to 463 civilians as compared to 264 in the first quarter of last year. Several US officials on condition of anonymity confirmed that the classified data corroborated the analysis of the Afghanistan NGO Safety office. The International Security Assistance force was initially charged with security of Kabul and surrounding areas from Taliban, al-Qaeda and factional warlords, so as to facilitate the establishment of the Afghan Transitional Government headed by Hamid Karzai. The ISAF subsequent to UN Security Resolution of Oct. 2003, extended its jurisdiction all over Afghanistan in four main stages, and since 2006, it has been involved in more intensive combat operations in southern Afghanistan. As a consequence to the expansion the attacks on the ISAF have multiplied. For the initial two years, its jurisdiction did not extend beyond Kabul. Gen. Van Heyst had pointed out that deployment all over Afghanistan would require at least an extra ten thousand troops. As a reaction, the Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien refused the deployment of Canadian forces beyond Kabul. But after the Afghan elections in 2005, the Canadian base Camp Julien was closed down at Kabul and remaining Canadian assets were moved to Kandhar as part of ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’ in preparation for a significant deployment in January 2006. For lack of clarity in UNSC resolution, the mandates by the different donor governments given to their forces can differ from country to country. Despite all these measures taken by the US-led forces, 24 ISAF soldiers have been killed during the four months of this year, mostly in the south. The Taliban now claim to have influence across most of the country and have extended their area of control from their traditional heartland in the south. According to a BBC camera report they are able to freely operate even in Kabul’s neighboring province of Wardak. But if anything, the battle for Afghanistan is harder now than it was after the Taliban were banished from Afghanistan. The question is; can Bush conquer Afghanistan? The Afghan history has the answer; no, never.
Source: The Frontier Post, 23/4/2008