No equipment for Afghanistan

The U.S. has reportedly decided to hand over to Pakistan some $7 billion worth of American military hardware currently in Afghanistan.

The U.S. has betrayed its Afghan ally, said Hasht-e Subh (Afghanistan) in an editorial. According to U.S. newspapers, the Pentagon has decided that it’s not cost-effective to ship home some $7 billion worth of American military hardware that’s currently in Afghanistan. The equipment includes hundreds of mine-resistant armored vehicles that Afghan forces desperately need to traverse terrain studded with roadside bombs. But rather than give this equipment to the Afghan army, the U.S. has reportedly decided to drive it across the border and hand it over to Pakistan. The decision is baffling and infuriating. Afghans are suffering and dying at the hands of an insurgency that is based across that very border. “If Pakistan is the ally of the USA, why do the Taliban and al Qaida have their bases in that country?”

The U.S. is in a bind, said Ankit Panda in The Diplomat (Japan). Since the Afghans have yet to sign the bilateral security agreement that would allow U.S. forces to remain beyond the end of this year, the Pentagon must undertake “a behemoth of a task” and remove all troops and hardware from Afghanistan. Complicating the challenge, many of those supplies were brought in via the Northern Distribution Network, a series of commercial hubs that “makes heavy use of Russian territory.” But “should Western sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea grow too burdensome,” President Vladimir Putin could decide to close off that corridor. Giving some of the materials to Pakistan is simply easier than trying to get them out.

But that doesn’t explain why the U.S. can’t give the equipment to Afghanistan, said Afghanistan Today. Many Afghans suspect they are being punished for President Hamid Karzai’s refusal to sign the security pact. Karzai insists that the pact should be signed by his successor, who will be elected in April, and American officials are angry at the delay. “This decision by the U.S. is a kind of revenge towards President Karzai, but the people of Afghanistan will pay for it,” said Fazel Sancharaki, a spokesman for presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah. The U.S., too, could pay a price for its own pique. “Should Afghan security forces not be equipped and funded well, Afghanistan will again turn into the center of international terrorism.”

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This is part of the double game the Americans have long been playing, said the Afghanistan Times. U.S. officials claim that any military hardware left behind will “fall into the clutches of the Taliban.” Of course, by denying us the equipment we need to battle the Taliban, they are all but guaranteeing such an outcome. For more than a decade, Afghanistan has been “fighting terrorism sincerely and bleeding profusely, but the U.S. largesse has always showered on Pakistan.” The Pakistani government and military get more than $1 billion every year in U.S. aid, despite the country’s “treacherous nature.” Future generations will surely question “how and why a superpower like the U.S., with a vast and sophisticated intelligence service, has been fooled by a country like Pakistan.”

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