Brig Asif Haroon Raja
January 19, 2011
The Republicans under George W Bush had taken the credit of stabilizing Iraq and gradually handing over provinces in Iraq to Iraqi forces. Gen David Petraeus and Gen Stanley McChrystal were pronounced as heroes. Claims made and acclaims received were far from truth since Iraq is still as volatile as it was in earlier years of its occupation. Obama riding over the crest of popular votes also thought of pinning a feather in his cap by repeating the so-called success story of Iraq in Afghanistan. He spelt out his mission to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. For the accomplishment of his stated mission he not only shifted the heroes of Iraq from Iraqi theatre of war to Afghanistan but also shifted 20,000 troops from Iraq.
Since it was assumed that roots of terrorism in Afghanistan lay in neighboring FATA and without plucking out the roots, no worthwhile results could be achieved, Pakistan was tagged with Afghanistan. It was planned to render Durand Line redundant and to enforce strategy of anvil and hammer by co-opting Pak forces. US-NATO forces were to launch the hammer in Helmand Province contiguous to Balochistan and carryout hot pursuit operations, raids and aerial attacks inside Balochistan/FATA if the situation so demanded while Pak troops were to provide the anvil.
In other words, southern and eastern Afghanistan-FATA-Pashtun belt of Balochistan were to be converted into a single battle zone, with overall command and control resting with Gen McChrystal. Holbrooke was appointed as the coordinator of the Af-Pak policy to push the civil leadership of the two countries and also oversee work done on creating cleavage between Al-Qaeda and Taliban and dividing Taliban. But for Gen Kayani’s defiance, this Pakistan specific policy would have been enforced as in the case of drones.