Ordinarily I don't write about politics. But, my good friend, Sofyan Yusufi, a former student from Pakistan and bright young father who works in DC for Deloitte, asked me to.
Sofyan pointed me in the direction of a Washington Post article written by Dr. Nasim Ashraf, executive director of the Center for Pakistan Studies, Middle East Institute, and former minister in the Musharraf administration in Pakistan. You can access the article here:
Essentially in his article Dr. Ashraf says:
1. The U.S. must adopt a clear strategy in Afghanistan.
2. The U.S. military can not remain engaged in Afghanistan perpetually.
3. A stable Afghanistan means a stable Pakistan.
4. Regional Muslim countries must contribute to the peacekeeping efforts.
5. Ethnic groups within Afghanistan must 'own up to the fight' and be part of the government's local security infrastructure.
I don't know the intricacies of the argument but find Dr. Ashraf's points incontestable. We must have a clear strategy or risk a Russian experience (or a Viet Nam one) in Afghanistan. We can't stay in the country forever. We don't have the means, the will, or the defined purpose. We need to help neighboring Pakistan, a country struggling to a democratic way of life (imagine our problems in Pennsylvania if trouble was brewing in neighboring Ohio). We will never have peace without a deep understanding of (and, therefore, ability to communicate with) Muslims, the only group who can truly help us understand the problems in that part of the world. And, Afghanistan, and its microcultures, must want to solve these problems.
Dr Asraf knows the Middle East. He knows the US. He knows how the two can collaborate to begin to resolve the issues facing Afghanistan and Pakistan. We need to listen to him. Pass it on!