U.S.-Pak joint counter-terror strategy key to restoring normalcy in Afghanistan: Expert

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Washington, Apr.18 : Coalition efforts in Afghanistan have suffered from a disjointed and poorly coordinated approach among the different NATO contributors and an overall lack of resources to achieve mission objectives.

In the light of this, the United States and Pakistan are believed to be seriously considering a joint strategy to improve coordination in dealing with terror elements in Afghanistan.

According to an analysis by Lisa Curtis of the Heritage Foundation, the United States has begun to deploy an additional 3,200 Marines to Afghanistan, raising the total U.S. force level to about 32,000.1

Curtis says these reinforcements will help to blunt the expected and traditional spring offensive by the Taliban-led insurgency, which has grown stronger in recent years.

According to Curtis, both Washington and Kabul need greater cooperation from Pakistan and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in controlling the border.

"It is particularly important that the United States, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and all coalition forces carry out a unified and integrated strategy and reject separate deals with the Taliban leadership," Curtis says.

The victory of a secular Pashtun party in the province bordering Afghanistan in the February 18 general elections, she says provides an opportunity to isolate Taliban and al-Qaeda elements in Pakistan's Tribal Areas.

Coalition forces have won every major battle with the Taliban and the other insurgents, which lack the firepower, to stand against the superior military strength of U.S., NATO, and Afghan forces.

Targeting Taliban leaders could have a cumulative debilitating impact because charismatic leadership plays an important role in Afghan war fighting and politics.

Yet these tactical victories have not amounted to a strategic knockout, in large part because the insurgents are free to retreat and regroup in sanctuaries across the Afghan-Pakistani border in the Pashtun tribal belt of Pakistan.

Tackling the Taliban/al-Qaeda threat in Pakistan's Tribal Areas will require a multifaceted effort that includes close U.S.-Pakistan coordination and cooperation, large-scale economic assistance, precision military operations against terrorist leaders, a comprehensive effort to undermine the extremist ideologies that drive the various groups in the region, and a new political arrangement that incorporates the region into Pakistan proper.

The new Pakistani civilian government "needs to work hand-in-hand with the Pakistan military to carry out a multifaceted campaign to uproot the international terrorist threat and deny al-Qaeda and the Taliban sanctuary in these critical border areas," she concludes.

ANI

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