NATO in Afghanistan and better Cooperation with Pakistan

Posted in Other | 20-Feb-09 | Author: Karl-Heinz Lather


1. Introduction. Since the election of the civil government in Pakistan, last year there has been an emerging consensus on the need for NATO to adopt a 'regional approach' and recognise that resolution of the problems of Afghanistan requires concomitant resolution of the problems in the FATA and NWFP. The problem can be addressed in three main areas: first, broad engagement with Pakistan; second, issues of technical co-operation on the border, and lastly issues internal to the FATA.

2. International Engagement with Pakistan. From the NATO perspective, practical steps might include:

- Diplomatic engagement including high level visits such and reciprocal invitations for Pakistani leaders to address key decision making bodies eg the North Atlantic Council.

- Reassurance for all elements of Pakistani society that a stable Afghanistan - even one that is friendly to India - need not pose a threat to Pakistan.

- Support for the establishment of a political and military forum where Afghanistan, India and Pakistan can meet together to discuss areas of shared potential benefit such as trade and infrastructure links and energy supply arrangements.

- A strategic communications effort within Pakistan emphasising NATO support for the Pakistani people, and informing Pakistanis that we have no hostility to Islam and are supporting the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

- Encouragement (and funding for) an Afghan public relations effort in Pakistan to dissuade Pakistanis from sending their sons across the border to fight against a friendly neighbouring Islamic state.

- Assessment of our tactical actions for their impact on the Pakistani man in the street, and actions within Afghanistan for their potential to inflame conservative religious sentiment in Pakistan.

- Hosting a liaison officer at HQ NATO in Brussels.

- Provision of places for Pakistani officers on NATO training courses.

- Investigation of a special status in its relationship with NATO for Pakistan.

3. Technical Border Co-operation. The second area is that of technical tri-lateral co-operation in security operations between ISAF, the Afghan National Security Forces and the Pakistani Security Forces.

- The Tri-Partite Commission and its sub-committees must be supported and maintained.

- Permanent joint structures to share intelligence and coordinate Counter Improvised Explosive Device between ISAF, PAKMIL, and ANA have been established. We must ensure that meetings and exchanges of views continue at the highest levels.

- Planned Border Co-ordination Centres should be given the necessary support to ensure success.

- There should be more operational military co-ordination such as that seen between PAKMIL in Bajaur and ISAF in Regional Command East

- In addition, planning for the deployment of an ISAF liaison element in Islamabad is in advanced stages. This is an initiative that can only help improve communication, and one that should be supported.

- Tri Partite Commission should develop (in consultation with the Pakistani-Afghan civil 'mini jirga') a genuinely collaborative comprehensive border management plan.

- Encourage sharing criminal intelligence and co-ordination of the efforts of Pakistani and Afghan law enforcement agencies.

4. Counter Insurgency in FATA. COIN ops need to be conducted in three pillars: security, governance and development. Specific international actions could include:

- Support for the modernisation of the Pakistan Army and the Frontier Corps, specifically against the requirements of conducting complex counter-insurgency operations. T

- Support to include training support, assistance with counter insurgency doctrine and the provision of specialist equipment.

- Support and assistance for a sophisticated information operations campaign to support security activity.

- Support for a constitutional process by which FATA can be given the prospect of full incorporation into the political system of Pakistan proper.

- Development aid to improve the lot of the people to remove the grievances which fuel support for militants, for areas such as irrigation, infrastructure, educations and health care.

- Security, governance and development assistance all channelled through state structures and avoidance of the temptation to undertake well-meaning but un-coordinated unilateral or bilateral assistance efforts.

General Karl-Heinz Lather, Chief of Staff, NATO Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE)