"There will be tough days ahead". This is the statement of General John Allen in a ceremony in Kabul on Monday, July 18, 2011, wherein he took over the command of International forces in Afghanistan from General David H. Petraeus. General David Petraeus served for one year or so in Afghanistan as the commander of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
Otherwise he has been serving in U.S. Army for the last 37 years. While leaving the command of ISAF in Afghanistan, he has also been retired of his military services and is going to be the Director of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) once he returns to U.S. This change of command, though not very controversial, comes along with the controversial troops' drawdown that had been announced by U.S. President Obama and that has already started formally.
But, if seen critically, this change has certain concerns related to it as General Petraeus could not spend much time in Afghanistan so as to be able to complete some of the plans and programs that he had initiated with much zeal and confidence. Whether the change is going to keep the momentum going is difficult to predict though General John Allen has mentioned, "It is my intention to maintain the momentum of the campaign".
Prior to the command of the ISAF in Afghanistan, General Petraeus had served in Iraq as well, and he has the reputation to have changed the overall scenario in Iraq. But his performance in Afghanistan has been brought to attentions with certain controversies. One of his programs regarding training and equipping Afghan people from different rural areas so that they should be able to perform as police of their regions has to be mentioned as the already trained people have not been able to perform appropriately.
Instead of securing the people, they have been irritating them in certain ways by the misuse of the given authorities. Further, the program is yet to go a long way, while General himself has to leave. Another major concern is the increase in terror attacks. Though General himself has mentioned that the condition this year has been better than the same period last year, but in reality this year the terror attacks have hit the country hard, if not frequently. Many prominent figures have been the victims of these attacks.
Most recently, the advisor to the President Karzai, Jan Mohammad Khan along with an MP from Uruzgan have become the victims in the capital Kabul in the residence of the advisor. Jan Mohammad Khan has been considered an influential figure in the south, especially in Uruzgan. The attackers after killing the guards entered the house and were able to target them. But, the most concerning fact is that the attackers were able to vie against security forces for almost 7 hours, which shows the intensity to which they were equipped in the capital Kabul.
At the same time it must not be forgotten that the number of the ISAF personnel killed this year has been near to 40, which is not as small as to be accepted softly. The number of roadside attacks has multiplied as well, and such attacks have been one of the most successful ways of targeting the patrolling ISAF forces. One the other hand, the number of foreign officers being targeted by the Afghan forces themselves has an increasing trend, multiply with this issue the issue of the incapacity of the Afghan forces to deal with the modern tactics of Taliban.
"How would the new commander of the ISAF carry on the security strategy?" is an open question now, and the major concern for many in Afghanistan and out of it. General John Allen has had a reputation in Iraq as well. But it must be mentioned that the objective conditions in both the regions differ to a great extent, along with the intensity of war. The complex nature of the conflict in Afghanistan has not been very easy to comprehend. General Allen seems ready as he has mentioned, "I have no illusions about the challenges".
This sort of approach is really the need of time. Both national and international security forces can not afford to be in any sort of illusion regarding their success in Afghanistan. It stands a fact even after 10 years of war that the war in the country is not over yet. It has to end with a lasting peace available in each corner of the country, with all the opportunities for development and progress to make their ways in the lives of the most common people. And such peace can not be guaranteed just because of a change in the leadership of the international forces, rather it demands a comprehensive process, involving all the key factors – international forces, national forces, politicians and people of Afghanistan and the neighboring countries.
Afghanistan is going through a sophisticated and delicate phase of its history. Many things have been happening recently in this part of world. The Western allies to Afghanistan seem to be in a hurry to leave the country. The troops withdrawal has started, the command of the ISAF has been changed, the President along with his Peace High Council are striving for some sort of political reconciliation with the Taliban, the Parliament seems to be caught in the matters other than the security, the names of 14 Taliban leaders have been excluded from the UN blacklist, the Taliban are turning more violent and as a result high profile figures are being victimized, The relation of the country is becoming tenser with the neighboring Pakistan that can play a vital role in the peace process – every thing is pointing towards a considerable change in Afghanistan's socio-political scenario.
It really is a transition. The society is changing from one form to another. At this point the political and social controls seem to get loose. And if such controls are non-existent the circumstances are left unchecked, and they can turn any way they want. But if plans and controls are introduced and they are managed with acumen at this particular point the circumstances may be steered towards the betterment of the people and this second option is what we have to strive for as the other option may lead us to our extinction.