Tuesday, August 21, marks the one year anniversary of the US’s strategy for Afghanistan and South-Asia – but rather than a decrease in violence, Afghanistan has in the past few months seen a spike in attacks across the country.
Exactly one year ago, US President Donald Trump announced the strategy which was aimed at bringing an end to the 17-year-old war.
At the time of his announcement last year, Trump paid tribute to the US forces in Afghanistan and said: “I am here tonight to lay out our path forward in Afghanistan and South Asia.”
He said: “We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities,” he said.
“America's enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out. I will not say when we are going to attack, but attack we will.”
Despite many critics proclaiming the strategy as being a failure, the Afghan Ministry of Defense said it has in fact been a success.
One area, said ministry officials, was that of improved support for the Afghan security forces, especially the Afghan Air Force (AAF).
“This strategy has been successful. We received lots of support, especially for the AAF. Our commandos doubled, and the international community’s support to us at the Brussels summit was a big achievement,” said defense ministry spokesman Ghafoor Jawed.
Although the US President said that one of the strategy’s aims was to end the Afghan war, a number of Afghan and American military analysts say that the war has in fact intensified in this time.
Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells meanwhile said at a press conference that India has played a vital role in the implementation of the US strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia as well as for stability in the region.
“The South Asia strategy obviously pointed to the role that India can and should play in supporting the stabilization of Afghanistan and I think that was of the key and new features of the strategy,” said Wells.
Wells also said they are worried about insurgent safe havens in Pakistan adding that the US wants the new government in Islamabad to take serious action against insurgent groups.
“Pakistan obviously has a critical role to play in the stabilization of Afghanistan. We have encouraged Pakistan to take stronger steps to ensure that the Taliban either come to the negotiating table or expelled back into Afghanistan rather than enjoy safe haven outside of the country,” Wells said.
Meanwhile a number of former military officers said intensified war in parts of the country and the collapse of a number of strategic areas to the Taliban recently have raised questions over the efficiency of the US strategy.
“Pakistan is against this strategy and following the announcement of the strategy, attacks on cities and villages increased and the situation turned worse,” former military officer Atiqullah Amarkhel said.
Reports indicate that following the US strategy announcement, battles are ongoing in over 20 provinces in the country and at least 10 districts collapsed to insurgents only to be retaken by security forces.