Secrecy News

Slow Progress, Setbacks Seen in Afghanistan, Pakistan

A White House report to Congress (pdf) last week assessed “both positive and negative trends in the implementation of our Afghanistan and Pakistan strategy.”

The report described the progress — or lack thereof — made this year towards achieving eight specified objectives. Those objectives include enhancing stability and civilian control in Pakistan, improving Pakistan’s counterinsurgency capabilities, and reversing the Taliban’s momentum in Afghanistan, among others. (The disruption of terrorist networks in Afghanistan and Pakistan was addressed in an undisclosed classified annex.)

The report was quite candid in its judgments. “Afghan anti-corruption efforts continue to be weak.” The security situation in Pakistan is “tenuous.” The Pakistani military has demonstrated an “inability” to maintain control of areas it seized from insurgents. During the second quarter of this year, “the Pakistan military continued to avoid military engagements that would put it in direct conflict with Afghan Taliban or al-Qa’ida forces in North Waziristan. This is as much a political choice as it is a reflection of an under-resourced military prioritizing its targets.”

Paradoxically, there is something encouraging about the new report since it indicates that U.S. government officials are not actively deluding themselves or deceiving others about the difficult realities of the conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The White House report to Congress was first reported in the Wall Street Journal (“U.S. Slams Pakistani Efforts on Militants” by Adam Entous and Siobhan Gorman, October 6) but the document itself was not made readily available to the public. A copy is now posted on the Federation of American Scientists website here.