Without a doubt, Afghanistan and Pakistan are linked, we must recognise that many of issues are linked to our actions. A single blog post from us will not provide any great insight but there are some resources on the internet that are well worth a read, especially at www.registan.net
A few thoughts…
1. The Government should direct more resources at the situation in Pakistan, both in terms of capacity building and operational support to help the Pakistani security forces deal directly with the threat from militants, and in terms of development assistance
Yes, but these resources must be closely linked to the UK’s security
2. In relation to Afghanistan, while acknowledging the need for a long-term commitment on the UK’s part, the Commission believes we need much more clarity and realism on the nature of the end state we are there to help deliver. The focus needs to be on helping the writ of the democratically elected government in Kabul run throughout the country, and on preventing Afghanistan from being used as a base from which to attack us. It should not be on trying to implant our own cultural norms in a country that is not ours.
Democracy is a Western cultural norm and not automatically the answer. The end state must not be a stable democracy per se but an improved security situation that does not provide a safe haven for terrorism that destabilises the region and ultimately provides a springboard for the export of that terrorism.
3. The international community needs a single plan for Afghanistan, developed in partnership with the Afghan authorities, with tightly defined priorities and a determination by all members of the international community to operate it with real unity of purpose and voice
Yes, but easier said than done. That should not deter us.
4. The use of military force, both in Afghanistan and in the border areas of Pakistan, must be locked more firmly with in a coherent political plan that is designed to defeat the adversaries we face
5. The UK government should, with international partners, further develop its efforts at narcotics eradication in Afghanistan by pursuing a multidimensional strategy focused on crop destruction, livelihood substitution, and dealer network disruption. This will help both to develop Afghanistan’s legal economy and to undercut the Taliban, which profits from the narcotics trade.
Our previous strategies with regard to poppy eradication have been woeful, disconnected from reality and resulting both in record poppy crop numbers and a growing alienation in the ordinary rural community.
Evidently what we are doing has not worked.
Meddling with economic reality by buying opium poppy is simply naive and should be vigorously resisted. Another problem is the corruption and poor governance that accompanies narcotics economies, this makes any top down enforcement strategies almost impossible. In the short term we may have to recognise that there is little we can do, concentrating on the security situation and building the infrastructure and agricultural development of impoverished rural communities that will provide a realistic alternative to the poppy. Only from the ground up will the situation be resolved, with the aim of undercutting funding for the Taleban.
6. The Government should support and encourage the US to pursue a wider regional approach to improving the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan
If Pakistan and India could make progress on the Kashmir situation this would provide both political and resource benefits. We must recognise our limitations and encourage the USA to devote resource to resolving or at least de-escalating the tensions between India and Paikistan.
7. The UK’s capacity for combined civilian-military stabilisation and reconstruction operations must quickly grow in-country and increasingly be Afghanised where possible. We have been good at winning military victories in Afghanistan, but less good at building a stable peace afterwards
Yes, we have been good at winning tactical battles but the wider strategic situation still favours the Taleban and the desire to involve more Afghan forces such as the ANP and ANA can bring its own problems, especially the child raping ANP.
There is no silver bullet but we need numbers and the only pragmatic way to achieve that is with Afghan forces, however imperfect.
We also have to bolster the legitimacy of the Afghan government and security forces and the single most important part of this is tackling corruption. Corruption was one of the reasons the Taleban enjoyed such strong local support and as we empower the often warlord influenced local forces we simply reinforce the old ways of corruption and make our job impossible.