In an article titled “DoD Report: Pakistan is Reason for Afghanistan Stalemate”, Colonel Robert Cassidy, Retd, squarely blames Washington for not devising an effective Pakistan strategy that uses its substantial resources to modify Pakistan’s loathsome strategic malfeasance. Cassidy, has served in Afghanistan four times and also in Iraq, and elsewhere in the Central Command area . As per him the crux of the stalemate in Afghanistan is that it continues to face an externally enabled and resilient insurgency.
Pakistan’s sanctuary, support, and employment of insurgents and terrorists is a strategic impediment to ending the war in Afghanistan. Colonel Robert Cassidy has suggested that Afghanistan’s stability and security can only be assured and ensured by the United States, and for that, the latter must
*Stop paying for malice
* Stop major non-NATO ally status for Pakistan
* State intention to make the Line of Control in Kashmir permanent
* Shut down ground lines of communications via Pakistan
*Declare Pakistan the state-sponsor of terrorism that it is
*Issue one final ultimatum to Pakistan to end the sanctuary and to stop supporting the Taliban
* Invite Indian Armed Forces into Afghanistan for security operations in the Pashtun east and south.
*Reciprocate Pakistan’s malice using lethal coercion, both indirectly and directly.
Cassidy emphasizes that a strategy that does not address that malign influence of Pakistan is no strategy at all. A realizable strategy needs to bring the full weight of the U.S. and regional actors to compel Pakistan to cease supporting the Taliban. The Taliban would have been diminished to a marginal nuisance without the full support that Pakistan rendered to the group in pursuit of its quixotic notion of strategic depth to assert control over Afghanistan. Sanctuary within Pakistan remains the biggest obstacle to the defeat of the Taliban, and it is the reason for the existing stalemate.
Though welcoming the Pentagon’s move to enhance American troop levels by another 4000 personnel, Cassidy, adds that merely more action and more troops by themselves will not gain strategic momentum. Such Strategic momentum requires a strategy which includes more regional cooperation and a much more coercive strategic approach to curb Pakistan’s machinations. This requires a sea change in strategic thinking to shock, compel, and instill fear in Pakistan’s security establishment to break it out of its ingrained strategic-cultural pathologies. Pakistan’s duplicitous incubation and export of proxy terrorists and insurgents is the most significant obstacle to peace in Afghanistan and South Asia.
Pakistan, he categorically states, has nurtured and relied on a host of Islamist insurgents and terrorists for decades. The Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) has maintained links between Al Qaeda, its longtime Taliban allies, and a host of other extremists inside Pakistan. It is only possible for Pakistan to become a non-pariah state among the community of states and a helpful partner to the Coalition and the U.S. if it significantly modifies its regional conduct and ceases its support of proxy terrorists and insurgents.
Cassidy describes Washington’s decision to offer 33 billion dollars in aid to Pakistan since 9/11 as a complete “miscarriage of trust and reliability”, and believes that the DOD report actually shows the mirror to Washington on its failure to be aware and alert to the grave consequences of failing to address what he calls “Pakistan’s odious collusion with the Taliban, The Haqqani Network, and groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba.”
This clearly points a finger at Pakistan, and to back his point, Cassidy refers to a section in the report which states, “Afghan-oriented militant groups, including the Taliban and The Haqqani Network retain freedom of action inside Pakistani territory and benefit from support from elements of the Pakistani Government.”
This explains Pakistan being the most influential external actor affecting Afghan stability, a factor that poses strategic risk and precludes a successful end to the war.
Colonel Cassidy goes on to say that the report’s executive summary mentions “Afghanistan faces a continuing threat from as many as 20 insurgent and terrorist networks present or operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, including the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, ISIS-K, and al Qaeda, in what is the highest concentration of extremist and terrorist groups in the world”, and this is eroding the Afghanistan-Pakistan relationship. Maintaining that capacity and will are an utmost requirement to defeat the enemy. Without a policy-strategy match that compels Pakistan to stop the sanctuary and support, this war will continue in perpetuity, with or without more troops.
The Colonel concludes by saying that only an offensive tactical over-match will disrupt the enemy, but without strategic change in reducing the sanctuary in Pakistan, these gains will be fleeting. To break the strategic stalemate, the Coalition should cast off its anxieties and illusions about Pakistan’s potential fragility or comity…it is essential to go heavy on sticks and light on carrots with Pakistan. With the support of other major regional actors, sticks will work where carrots, cash, and cajoling have not.