Tuesday, February 16, 2010

We've got the Taliban on the run, but for how long?

The Telegraph

This is not a good time to be a Taliban fighter. As Nato forces consolidate their hold over large swathes of southern Helmand following the resounding success of Operation Moshtarak, which was launched at the weekend, we learn that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar has been captured at the safe house in Karachi where he has been hiding out.

Pakistani security officials report that Baradar was actually taken into custody on February 8, several days before the Moshtarak offensive was launched, and this might explain why the American, British and Afghan forces charged with clearing the Taliban out of their main terror bases in Helmand have met with such relatively light resistance.

Baradar is credited with being the strategic mastermind behind the Taliban’s dogged resistance to Nato’s attempts to pacify the country, and if he was no longer able to direct operations then it is easy to understand why the Taliban have been reluctant to fight.

But while Nato forces have acquitted themselves admirably – with the tragic exception of the rogue missile that killed several Afghan civilians – by clearing the Taliban from places like Nad-e-Ali, the task of stabilising Helmand is far from complete. As Major-General Nick Carter, the head of British forces in Helmand, remarked yesterday, we have only reached the end of the beginning in terms of the formidable challenges that lie ahead.

Securing the ground is just the first step in a far broader counter-insurgency, where the primary objective is to persuade local Afghans to renounce their support for the Taliban and embrace the government of President Hamid Karzai.

Even though the Taliban are no longer prepared to stand and fight for their beliefs on the field of battle, they are unlikely to shy away from the battle for Afghan hearts and minds, and we will need to be on our mettle if we are to prevail.

1 comment:

  1. The Afghans will do what they've always done & side with whoever suits them at the time.
    They will then switch sides quicker than politicians switch mortgages.
    The Karzai government, ANA & Afghan police will also revert to type (corrupt) and Afghanistan will be back to where it is now inside 10 years, guaranteed.