The strike accurately targeted the terrorists and locals are very happy about it
The United States Air Force recent drop of GBU-43/B, the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat, against ISIS terrorists’ network in Nangarhar province of eastern Afghanistan demonstrates that Washington’s longest war – now in its sixteenth year is far from over. The lethal weapon also known as Massive Ordnance Air Blast was dropped at 7:32 p.m. local time from a U.S. Air Force special mission aircraft MC-130.
The U.S. government has not reported any specific details about the stunning air strike, but the deployment of weapon of this scale follows hours after Hanif Atmar, Afghanistan’s National Security Advisor, accompanied by the commander of US Armed Forces in Afghanistan General John Nicolson, addressed Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in Jalalabad, capital of Nangarhar province.
“We don’t want terrorists to make peace, we want to force them to make peace” said Hanif Atmar in his speech to ANSF before the megaton bomb was dropped on alleged ISIS tunnel network in Achin district. The visit of the most senior security officials from both sides the U.S. and Afghanistan indicates that Afghan officials were aware of the forceful strike at some level.
Authorizing the force of such magnitude is a testament to President Donald Trump genuine commitment to destroy the terrorist networks. In his speech on 15 August 2016 in Youngstown, Ohio, Mr. Trump, then as a Presidential contender said “We will defeat radical Islamic terrorism, just as we have defeated every threat we face at every age and before.”
President Trump and his administration’s desire to maximize the damage to terrorist groups and deny them operational grounds in defense of U.S. national security interest is indeed a sound strategy; however, the general consensus in Afghanistan is that destroying terrorists’ networks require regional cooperation mainly from Pakistan.
Pakistan remains accused of sheltering terrorist groups and subverting Washington’s objectives in Afghanistan. “Indeed, Pakistani policy is the principal cause of the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan” said Zalmay Khalilzad, the former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, and United Nations, in his testimony to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on 12 July 2016.
Previously, top U.S officials in President Obama’s Administration, Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Leon Panetta, the secretary of defense have confirmed to the Senate Armed Services Committee that Pakistan’s Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) spy agency “worked hand-in-glove with the Haqqani network” a notorious terrorist group hiding in Pakistan.
What can be done to destroy radical Islamic terrorism?
Terrorism will not be defeated by dropping the mother of all bombs or even by dropping the grand mother of all bombs (if it existed) simply because they are used as a policy tools by states – at least in the case of Pakistan. For this reason, it is important to secure commitment from Pakistan towards a durable peace and stability.
Pakistani cooperation is essential to defeat Islamic militancy in South Asia. Progress will be made only if Pakistani military is encouraged to crack down on terrorists in its country who operate in Afghanistan, namely the Quetta Shura and the Haqqani network, with the same commitment it bears to fight against more direct threats like the Pakistani Taliban.
President Donald Trump will first have to resort to diplomacy by putting Pakistani generals “on notice” that the United States will stay around for the long haul this time. Mr. Trump should also assuage Pakistan’s partially legitimate fears of India’s influence in Afghanistan. In a region of difficult strategic and diplomatic turmoil, this might well be Mr. Trump’s toughest task.
Talk won’t be enough. President Trump needs to keep up the pressure as well. Washington has already suspended or canceled millions of dollars in military aid in the past, and future aid must strictly depend on Pakistan’s genuine actions against the Haqqanis.
Without escalating tension with Islamabad, the Americans will also have to resume full scale drone strikes against terrorist networks in Pakistan. Drone strikes have killed several top Taliban leaders, including Mullah Mohammad Akhtar Mansoor who was killed in the strike on 22 May 2016 in Baluchistan province of Pakistan.
Developing an effective policy to end America’s decade long war is one of the biggest tests for President Trump. Mr. Trump’s uncompromising campaign promise to defeat terrorism has already shaken Pakistan. Days after President Trump took office, for instance, convinced Pakistani officials that Trump means business, persuading them to show sprite that led to the arrest of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the alleged mastermind of coordinated attacks on the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008 that killed more than 160 people. Before Mr. Trump assumed office, Hafiz Saeed walked freely in Pakistan with $10 million US bounty on his head.
Sami Jabarkhail studies Human Development at Texas A&M University. In 2014, he was selected as an Afghan delegate by the Atlantic Councils to the NATO Future Leaders Summit in Wales. Before pursuing his studies as Fulbright Scholar in the United States, Sami was head of the Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program at American Councils, Afghanistan. _ KP
THE VOICE TIMES