Blaming ISI for debacle in Afghanistan -
Waqar Ahmed


The WikiLeaks cables published by The Guardian claim the US ranks the ISI alongside al-Qaeda, Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation. The newspaper said being linked to al-Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah or the ISI was an indication “of terrorist or insurgent activity.”

These disclosures, to say the least, are extremely shocking and scandalous. They are a clear indication how the US treats its erstwhile ally in the war on terror. What’s more, they are a clear reflection of the fact that the US is losing the war in Afghanistan for which it is blaming the ISI.

In Afghanistan, American and Nato forces continue to face suicide bomb blasts and improvised explosive device attacks for which they are ill prepared. What actually went wrong was that the US decided to capture oil-rich Iraq while still fighting the Taliban. Soon after the Americans attacked Afghanistan, they took their resources to fight the insurgents in Iraq. Thus, they provided the Taliban ample opportunities to regroup and launch attacks on foreign forces in the country.

Afghanistan is twice the size of Iraq, is a mountainous region where it is very difficult to move and search for militants. Also, it has more population than Iraq, which comprises desert plains where operational movement is not very difficult. Experts say Americans should have brought in 400,000-450,000 troops to tackle the insurgency in Afghanistan. However, the number of coalition troops on the ground is even less than half of what is required. As such, the US forces could not use the same counter-insurgency strategy that they had applied to Iraq.

Then the US found that her Nato allies were reluctant to support the war effort as the war was rather politically and morally unacceptable in the European countries. Again, the US efforts to foster change in areas, ranging from education to anti-corruption, have been an utter disappointment due to various reasons.

So, it is not the ISI that is responsible for the US failures in Afghanistan; it is the poor US strategy that took away troops from Afghanistan and embroiled them in Iraq, which is chiefly responsible for the US debacles in Afghanistan.

In August 2009, a cover of the Economist was headlined “Afghanistan: The Growing Threat of Failure.” The mounting campaign against the ISI in 2011 shows that the threat of US failure in Afghanistan is now much more acute than it was two years ago. Thus, the ISI becomes the favourite US scapegoat!