Friday, March 06, 2009

AFPAK problem can and must be solved

Things are not looking good in AFPAK - the new word for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Everyone agrees that a purely military victory in Afghanistan is not a realistic option, but the Afghan state is drifting towards failure, with much of its territory in control of warlords, insurgents and Talaban. Pakistan is beginning to move in the direction of failure, with chunks of the North West frontier being effectively ceded to non-state actors, and active threats within Pakistan proper from Lashkar-e-Taiba.

The SAS officer who resigned over deaths of his men is not hopeful.

If things are not turned around, in a few years' time AFPAK could both end up in the horrific situation that obtains in Somalia.

It was a mistake to put Western forces into Afghanistan in the first place (Pakistan's offer to catch Osama bin Laden and hand him over to the US soon after 9/11 was turned down by Bush), but a swift withdrawal in the present circumstances could bring forward the Somalisation of AFPAK, with the Pakistani component in possession of nuclear weapons.

There are many things that need to be done to foster stability and good governance, but the single most important is to legitimise the Afghan Opium crop, buy it, and divert it to medical use in places like Africa, where millions die in agony each year from cancer without the benefit of opiate analgesics.

Click on "opium" below for more.

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