International forces are unlikely to win their battle against the Taliban in Afghanistan, risking a regional conflict that could match the magnitude of previous world wars, a former top U.N. envoy said on Wednesday. Lord Paddy Ashdown -- former United Nations high representative and European Union special representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina -- said failure by the NATO-led force would have far wider repercussions than any losses in Iraq.
He called for the appointment of a high-level coordinator to lead the foreign mission in Afghanistan.
"I think we are losing in Afghanistan now, we have lost I think and success is now unlikely," he told Reuters in an interview.
"I believe losing in Afghanistan is worse than losing in Iraq. It will mean that Pakistan will fall and it will have serious implications internally for the security of our own countries and will instigate a wider Shiite, Sunni regional war on a grand scale."
"Some people refer to the First and Second World Wars as European civil wars and I think a similar regional civil war could be initiated by this (failure) to match this magnitude," Ashdown added.
WASHINGTON, Nov. 4 — The Bush administration signaled Sunday that it would probably keep billions of dollars flowing to Pakistan’s military, despite the detention of human rights advocates and leaders of the political opposition by Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the country’s president.
In Islamabad, aides to General Musharraf who had dismissed pleas on Friday from Ms. Rice and Adm. William J. Fallon, the senior military commander in the Middle East, to avoid the state-of-emergency declaration ? said they had anticipated that there would be few real consequences.
Speaking to reporters in Jerusalem, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that while the United States would “have to review the situation with aid,” she said three times that President Bush’s first concern was “to protect America and protect American citizens by continuing to fight against terrorists.”
“That means we have to be very cognizant of the counterterrorism operations that we are involved in,” she said. “We have to be very cognizant of the fact that some of the assistance that has been going to Pakistan is directly related to the counterterrorism mission.”
In Islamabad, aides to General Musharraf — who had dismissed pleas on Friday from Ms. Rice and Adm. William J. Fallon, the senior military commander in the Middle East, to avoid the state-of-emergency declaration — said they had anticipated that there would be few real consequences.
They called the American reaction muted, saying General Musharraf had not received phone calls of protest from Mr. Bush or other senior American officials. In unusually candid terms, they said American officials supported stability over democracy.
In fact, however, a considerable amount of the money the U.S. gives to Pakistan is administered not through U.S. agencies or joint U.S.-Pakistani programs. Instead, the U.S. gives Musharraf's government about $200 million annually and his military $100 million monthly in the form of direct cash transfers. Once that money leaves the U.S. Treasury, Musharraf can do with it whatever he wants. He needs only promise in a secret annual meeting that he'll use it to invest in the Pakistani people. And whatever happens as the result of Rice's review, few Pakistan watchers expect the cash transfers to end.
About $10.58 billion has gone to Pakistan since 9/11. That puts Pakistan in an elite category of U.S. foreign-aid recipients: only Israel, Egypt and Jordan get more or comparable U.S. funding. (That's only in the unclassified budget: the covert-operations budget surely includes millions more, according to knowledgeable observers.) While Israel and Egypt get more money, Pakistan and Jordan are the only countries that get U.S. cash from four major funding streams: development assistance, security assistance, "budget support" and Coalition Support Funds. Pakistan, however, gets most of its U.S. assistance from Coalition Support Funds and from budget support. And it's those two funding streams that have minimal accountability at best.
In Pakistan's case, the only oversight is an annual agreement, known as the Shared Objectives statement, whereby top State Department and Treasury Department officials receive from Musharraf deputies -- usually Prime Minister Shawkat Aziz -- an explanation of how Musharraf intends to spend the money. The agreement is reached entirely in secret. "A good question is what are the objectives we're basing this budget support on," Cohen says.
In Pakistan, the military runs not just the government, but major sections of the economy as well.
U.S. trainers will travel to Pakistan this year to teach military officials counterinsurgency techniques to aid soldiers along the Afghan border in the fight against al-Qaida and Taliban militants, U.S. officials said Sunday.
The training will also leave the Pakistani border force better able to cooperate with U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, a U.S. military official said.
The U.S. trainers will primarily assist Pakistan military officials who will then do the actual training of the Frontier Corps, said Elizabeth Colton, the spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad.
The initial plans call for some 8,500 Frontier Corps members to benefit from the U.S. training, said the military official. Current plans call for the American personnel to be in Pakistan for up to two years.
The Pakistani army is having trouble dealing with the rising insurgency in part because the army is set up to defend Pakistan from outside invaders and not counterinsurgency warfare, the official said.
The military official said a report in the New York Times on Sunday saying up to 100 U.S. personnel would help train the Frontier Corps overstated the number involved. He said plans called for 22 trainers to travel to Pakistan.
The official refused to say what units the American personnel would be drawn from.
US sets up £215m deal for Afghan arms - from Russia
American defence officials have secretly requested a "prodigious quantity" of ammunition from Russia to supply the Afghan army in case a Democrat president takes over in Washington and pulls out US troops.
The Daily Telegraph can disclose that Pentagon chiefs have asked arms suppliers for a quote on a vast amount of ordnance, including more than 78 million rounds of AK47 ammunition, 100,000 rocket-propelled grenades and 12,000 tank shells - equivalent to about 15 times the British Army's annual requirements.
The Bush administration is said to want the deal because of worries that the next president could be a Democrat, possibly Hillary Clinton, who may abandon Afghanistan. White House insiders fear that Afghanistan could "drift" and consequently, they want heavily to arm President Hamid Kharzai's government before the 2008 US presidential election.
The Bush administration...is likely to recommend soon to the incoming Obama administration that the U.S. push for further expansion of the Afghan army as the surest path to an eventual U.S. withdrawal...
"What I would like to see, and, I think, what everybody would like to see, is the most rapid possible further expansion of the Afghan military forces, because this needs to be an Afghan war, not an American war and not a NATO war," Gates told reporters.
Under a plan adopted by the U.S. and Afghan governments in September, the Afghan army is to grow to 134,000 soldiers by 2014. The previous goal was 80,000, and the actual number in uniform now is about 67,000, according to Lt. Col. Christian Kubik, spokesman for the Combined Security Transition Command in Afghanistan, which is responsible for training and equipping Afghan forces. The price tag for getting to the new target of 134,000 by 2014 is an estimated $17 billion, Kubik said.
Gates noted he has broad support for getting to the 134,000 goal quickly...
"It may well not stop there," he added,
Barry McCaffrey, a retired four-star Army general, wrote recently after a July visit to Afghanistan that one of the keys to winning in Afghanistan is expanding the Afghan army to 200,000 soldiers.
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