Current Situation in the Afghan War
The present situation in Afghanistan is quite problematic. The country has very little in the way of existing infrastructure, and no real prospects for economic growth aside from the illegal drug trade. The central government’s power is limited to Kabul, and it is almost entirely dependent on US-led forces for security (Johnson and Leslie 19). Civilian casualties have increased rather than decreased in recent years, and there are few signs that Afghanistan is anywhere near becoming a safer place (Amnesty International).
Taliban and al-Qaeda forces established strongholds in parts of Afghanistan and over the border in Pakistan. Taliban fighters have launched attacks on major urban areas in Pakistan, including the city of Lahore. They have also made incursions into the Punjab region, which borders India. Taliban and al-Qaeda commanders have asserted that they plan to continue to increase their presence in Pakistan, and use that country as a base for launching attacks against the United States and its allies. US efforts to eliminate Taliban and al-Qaeda leadership through precision missile strikes have had some limited success, but have also motivated ordinary Pakistanis to speak out in opposition to US interference (Wall Street Journal).
Some argue that the regional situation is so unstable that the US will have to remain in Afghanistan, and possibly Pakistan, for many years to come. Plans are in place to double the number of US troops on the ground in Afghanistan in 2009, but it is unclear whether or not this will noticeably improve the security situation in the region. Furthermore, some are concerned that the US, which encouraged the Mujahideen to enmesh the Soviets in an Afghan trap, is now finding itself mired in the same situation that caused so much political damage to the Soviet Union.