Afghanistan and Pakistan: What Will the Trump Administration Decide?

By Scott Morgan 

One of the great unresolved issues that has carried on from the Obama Administration to the Trump Administration is the Afghan/Pakistan situation.

The involvement of US Ground Forces in Afghanistan, since 2001, makes this the longest sustained combat operation in the history of the republic. How long this will continue appears to focus on two key questions:

  1. Should Afghanistan and Pakistan be considered as a joint issue or
  2. Should Operations in these countries be separated into two distinct issues following a path that the Obama Administration began in 2014

Since the days of the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan there has been a link between the two states. Pakistan played a key role during that war as it not only hosted thousands of refugees fleeing the fighting but the Intelligence Service the ISI (Inter Service Intelligence) assisted the CIA with a program that provided key funding and training for the Mujhadeen in their struggle against the Red Army.

The chaotic period between the withdrawal of the Red Army and the 9/11 Attacks saw the morphing of some of the insurgent forces into the element known as the Taliban. They were actually able to gain power with the assistance of the ISI and later offered safe haven to Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. These links were to become a hindrance when US Troops entered Afghanistan to locate AQ and to drive the Taliban out of power.

The current strategy being used in Afghanistan needs to be updated or changed. A focus on Counterterrorism is not working at this time. A Counter-insurgency program which actually has an element of infrastructure development is sorely needed. One of the basic axioms of counter-insurgency is that when a government is losing an insurgency it is losing not because of military defeat, but because it is not providing adequate governance.

It appears that Pakistan is now suffering the same issues. The Government in Islamabad finds that for its internal security it has to rein in the Frontier provinces. This area has been an epicenter of Jihadist attacks in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Their tentacles have even made it to a successful attack in Mumbai and efforts to launch attacks within the United States itself.

This is a decision that the Trump Administration cannot take lightly. Two key allies are at play here. There are other regional players that have interests in this decision. China has become a major source of Arms and Security Training for Pakistan, The Taliban has held discussions with the Russians over the emergence of the Islamic State in the region and Iran cannot be ruled out as a player in this situation. India is another regional power that has interests in whatever decision comes from Washington.

The great game continues indeed with different players.

(Image: Durand Line - Google Images)

[The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dissecting Society]


  1. Both files should be dealt with separately.

  2. Great article, Scott! I would personally get the hell out of that region but then China would fill the vacuum, so we have to stay there but I agree with Anonymous we need to deal with both countries separately even though they are linked.

  3. This is yet another issue that will have to be carefully studied cause any hasty decision may have devastating consequences. President Trump for the moment is interested in renewing ties with Saudi Arabia, so any Pakistan decision must take the Saudi interests in Pakistan into consideration. But then, like you so well stated here, if we look at the other players involved - China and Russia - there's the need to tackle their interests in the region.


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