President Barack Obama promises a new deal for Afghanistan. In his review of the strategy to deal with terrorism in Afghanistan, the President unveiled a comprehensive set of measures to build Afghanistan. Though eliminating terrorism will remain a fundamental aspect of the strategy, unlike the earlier Bush administration, Obama administration will also concentrate equally on building the economy, government institutions, involving key regional players, insuring transparency and accountability and providing greater financial assistance. It seems to be an inclusive strategy which was long awaited. Unlike the Bush administration, the current administration is not obsessed with a Pakistan centric approach which we all know has miserably failed.
The President has also urged the Senate to pass a bill providing direct assistance to the extent of $ 1.5 billion to Pakistan every year for the next five years. This amount will be used to build schools, roads, hospitals and strengthen Pakistan’s democracy. This is again an attempt to build up a holistic strategy.
President Obama has warned that he will not allow Afghanistan to be a ‘safe haven’ for terrorist organisations like the Al-Qaeda. With respect to this, he plans to increase the number of NATO forces in Afghanistan to 134,000 by 2011, up from the present level of 80,000.
However, pooling of the troops will not be an easy job, particularly when most of the nations are experiencing fatigue over the continuous war. President Obama is also aware of this fact and therefore, is trying out a more pragmatic approach. Instead of asking for a big chunk of contribution in the form of troops, he is pushing his European counterparts to share some of the extra cost and building up civilian efforts.
Mr. Obama views both Pakistan and Afghanistan as a ‘single theatre’. Therefore, Richard Holbrooke was appointed as a special envoy to the Afghan-Pak region. Mr. Holbrooke is of the view that the real problem lies in Pakistan. Many of the Jihadi groups, he said, were operating from Pakistan. In the recent G20 summit, Mr. Obama also expressed concerns over the camps in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The President was very clear that "a campaign against extremism will not succeed with bullets or bombs alone."
"To advance security, opportunity, and justice, not just in Kabul, but from the bottom up in the provinces, we need agricultural specialists and educators, engineers and lawyers," Obama said. "That's how we can help the Afghan government serve its people and develop an economy that isn't dominated by illicit drugs. And that's why I'm ordering a substantial increase in our civilians on the ground.”
It has been more than eight years that NATO had stayed in Afghanistan. Undoubtedly, this new deal seems to be more promising. However, a look into Afghan’s history tells us that the Afghan blood cannot tolerate any foreign presence on their land. The sooner the NATO exits, the better it is.