Term Paper: Comparing Between the Two U.S. Intervention in Afghanistan and Pakistan After 2001

Pages: 7 (2550 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  Topic: Terrorism  ·  Buy This Paper

¶ … U.S. Interventions in Afghanistan and Pakistan

intervention in Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and its involvement in Pakistan since 2001, although of diametrically opposite nature, are intertwined in many ways. Its intervention in Afghanistan was essentially a revenge attack for the 9/11 terrorism in order to punish the Taliban for their support of al-Qaeda; it was purportedly also aimed at capturing or killing Osama bin Laden, who lived in Afghanistan at the time, and to destroy the Islamic militant training camps in the country. Its involvement in Pakistan was basically aimed at stopping its government and its intelligence agencies from supporting the Taliban forthwith, to extend full co-operation to the U.S. In its "War against Terror," and to disband the Jihadist organizations in the country. This paper compares the two interventions and presents "guideline for foreign intervention" by examining the legality of the U.S. attack on Afghanistan as per International Law.

The 9/11 Terrorist Attacks and the U.S. Intervention in Afghanistan

When the unprecedented terrorist attacks took place on September 11, 2001, completely destroying the World Trade Center twin-towers in New York, partially damaging the Pentagon, and killing almost 3000 innocent civilians, the Americans were understandably outraged. The world's only super-power and the mightiest military force had been challenged by a 'rag-tag' band of terrorists. Al-Qaeda, an Islamic extremist group, known for its previous terrorism against United States and Western interests and led by a former Saudi millionaire, Osama bin Laden, was the immediate suspect. The U.S. public opinion demanded immediate retribution for the dastardly attack, but terrorist groups like the al-Qaeda are notoriously elusive targets. The United States needed a more concrete military target to demonstrate its awesome fire-power to the world and to disprove bin Laden's public pronouncement that the U.S. soldier was nothing more than a "paper tiger." ("Interview: Osama bin Laden") They found the perfect target in Afghanistan. The land-locked Asian country had been devastated due to decades of war; first through a brutal Soviet military intervention in 1979; the decade long, U.S. And Pakistan backed "freedom struggle" by the Mujahideen against the Soviets; the ensuing internecine warfare among the Afghan warlords after the Soviet withdrawal and finally the brutal Taliban rule that believed in a decadent, centuries old system of governance in which men were physically punished for not keeping beards and girls were barred from getting education.

The Taliban had initially come to power in Afghanistan in 1996 with the assistance of the powerful Pakistani intelligence agency (the ISI) and at least tacit support by the United States. Just before the Taliban came to power, Osama bin Laden, who had been expelled from his native Saudi Arabia and felt unwelcome in Sudan, had taken refuge in Afghanistan. Bin Laden soon developed close ties with the Taliban, as they shared some of his extremist views on Salafist Islam, and bin Laden could provide much needed finances to the impoverished Taliban. After the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government demanded that the Taliban should immediately hand over bin Laden and break all ties with al-Qaeda, or face the consequences. The Taliban refused, asking for proof of bin Laden's involvement in the 9/11 attacks. The U.S. was in no mood to listen to "ifs and buts" by that stage and made preparations for a military attack on Afghanistan.

Involvement with Pakistan

As stated earlier, the Taliban had come to power in Afghanistan with more than a little push by the intelligence agencies of the neighboring Pakistan. In September 2001, Pakistan was among just three countries that had recognized the Taliban government -- (the others were Saudi Arabia and the UAE.) it was vital for the United States to win the support of the Pakistan government in order to launch an effective military campaign against the Taliban government in Afghanistan, as all feasible supply routes into the country led from Pakistan. Moreover, the porous border between the two countries and the close affinity between the Pashtun tribes in the border areas meant that the Taliban could put up a fierce resistance, if supported by Pakistan. It was in this context that General Powell, the U.S. Secretary of State, made a fateful telephone call to General Musharraf in which he conveyed an unambiguous message of "either you are with us or against us" and gave him a list of specific demands. Musharraf had already been softened up by reports of the U.S. administration's aggressive mood; U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage in a meeting with Pakistan's Intelligence Agency in Washington had told him: "Be prepared to be bombed. Be prepared to go back to the Stone Age.." (Quoted in "Musharraf: In the Line of Fire") Hence, in a complete about-turn of Pakistan's decades-long policy of supporting the Taliban and other Jihadist Islamic groups, Musharraf accepted all of the U.S. demands and agreed to provide all-out support in its fight against terror.

As quid pro quo for Pakistan's support, the U.S. promised to provide it with massive financial and military aid that had been stopped following Pakistan's nuclear tests in 1998. The U.S. aid was particularly welcome to Musharraf, a military dictator, who had come to power through a coup against a democratically elected government in 1999, and had until that time received little international support; the aid was likely to bolster his military rule indefinitely, just as a similar, mutually beneficial compact between U.S. And Pakistan's military regime in the 1980s, had prolonged the rule of Pakistan's the-then military ruler, General Zia-ul-Haq for over 11 years.

How is the U.S. Intervention in Afghanistan Different from its Role in Pakistan?

The U.S. intervention in Afghanistan after 2001 was a direct military attack that led to the overthrow of its government and its replacement with a regime of its choice. Since that time, it has tried to bolster the pro-West regime of Hamid Karzai by the military presence of its own and NATO troops and carried out a rebuilding effort through the USAID program. The results of the efforts have been mixed. For example, the U.S. was able to oust the Taliban regime and install a government of its choice with almost negligible loss of American lives; its other declared aim of killing or capturing bin Laden and Mullah Umar could not be achieved as both are believed to be still at large. Moreover, the Taliban have been able to re-group after their initial defeat, and constantly harass the NATO and Afghan government troops through suicide bombings and guerilla tactics of hit and run. Afghanistan has also regained its position as the world's number one poppy and heroin producing nation under the present government.

In case of Pakistan, the U.S. aims were different. There was no need for a regime change since General Musharraf and the Pakistan army was already pro-West. The only requirement for the U.S. was that Pakistan should stop supporting the Taliban government and be made to extend its co-operation in hunting down the al-Qaeda based in Pakistan. The past history shows us that the United States has never had any compunction about dealing with military dictators. In fact, it has enjoyed better relations with all three military dictators who have been in power in Pakistan over the last 50 years than it has with its democratic governments. Hence, it was able to win Pakistan's support rather easily with an effective "carrot and stick" approach. It would, in any case, have been enormously risky and expensive to carry out an all-out military attack on Pakistan as, unlike Afghanistan, it has a large and well-trained army; it is a nuclear power and has a very large population of over 160 million people. The results of the post-2001 American policy in Pakistan have, just as in case of its Afghan policy, been mixed. Pakistan has provided the U.S. with unprecedented levels of cooperation by allowing the U.S. military to use bases within the country, helping to identify and detaining extremists, and tightening its border with Afghanistan. Since 2001, Pakistani authorities have caught and handed over to the U.S., more than 500 fugitive Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters. These include such high-profile figures as Abu Zubaydah (March 2002), Ramzi bin al-Shibh (September 2002), Khalid Sheik Mohammed (March 2003), and Abu Faraj al-Libbi in May 2005. (Kronstadt 5-6) Many other alleged al-Qaeda fighters have been killed in gun-battles and missile attacks by the Pakistan army, which has also suffered hundreds of casualties in such operations. The total cost to the United States for getting these services from Pakistan has been about $10 billion in aid provided to Pakistan since 2001, most of it in military hardware, which is by most accounts not a bad bargain.

The downside of the U.S.'s Pakistan policy is that a large number of Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters have regrouped in the mountainous tribal regions of Pakistan, which borders Afghanistan. From there, these fighters carry out raids against the Afghan and NATO forces across the border and the Pakistan army has… [END OF PREVIEW]

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