Hugging the Cactus – America and Pakistan


by Ken Smith

Like many Americans I follow the war in Afghanistan though the media.  I watch our troops perform their duties with honor and courage.  I actively search online for stories about how our armed forces are performing to better understand the difficulties and sacrifices that they make every day.

I don’t understand how our ground commanders are hindered by some invisible fence that seems to divide Afghanistan from Pakistan.  It seems odd to me that our troops take fire from insurgents on the Pakistani side of the border, and yet are restricted from firing back.  I use the example of rocket and mortar fire recently, that was undeniably coming from Pakistan.

(See:  KABUL: Afghan President Hamid Karzai accuses Pakistan of firing 470 rockets into two of its eastern border provinces in a three-week barrage.)

When are we going to understand that the “frontier” sections of Pakistan are not under the control of the Pakistani government, and this lawless region has been this way for hundreds of years.   Didn’t we learn anything from the British who attempted to bring peace and services to this part of the world that appears to be living in the 7th century?

I advocate that our battle commanders should have clear and concise “Rules of engagement” that allows US Troops to defend themselves regardless of geography.  How to do we explain to an American family that their son or daughter was killed by insurgents operating 10 miles inside of Pakistan, firing rockets or mortars from inside a country that appears to the world to be a country that is incapable of controlling its own territory?

I understand like most Americans the complexities of the geo politics of the region and I applaud our president for accelerating the use of drones to target those who are killing our troops in cross border fighting.   At the same time, I wonder, like you, how we are going to extradite ourselves from this fight.

I am planning a trip to Afghanistan as a free lance reporter next year, and have submitted my request to the Defense Department to see first hand how difficult this insurgency is to fight.

I have tremendous respect for those Americans who are on the front line right now, working to change the paradigm and insure that this region of the world doesn’t foster anymore terrorists that come to our country to harm Americans.

I also wonder to myself what is happening along the Afghanistan –Iranian border?  We hear very little news from this part of the theatre of war, and is it because we have an unwritten agreement with Iran?

Let there be no mistake, our relationship with Pakistan is like hugging a cactus.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *