A new round of tripartite meetings between NATO, Afghanistan and Pakistan officials are set to kick off Wednesday in Brussels, with NATO officials setting the stage as they have so often in the past by demanding a new round of Pakistani crackdowns against the tribal areas.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen insisted all of NATO’s military “efforts” in Afghanistan are being countered by “safe havens” inside Pakistan which allow militants to cross back and forth with impunity.
Of course Pakistan is facing much the same problem, with NATO no more able to conquer southern Afghanistan in any permanent way than Pakistan is with its northwestern tribal regions. Fighters cross back and forth regularly, indeed, but this is just the reality of those regions. Pakistan’s repeated NATO-mandated crackdowns kill a lot of people, but they don’t change the underlying reality of the mountainous border zone.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai, apparently quite comfortable to repeat these regular conferences that never seem to resolve anything, also angrily condemned Pakistan, insisting his “patience is running out” and that Pakistan is blocking a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan.
This allegation isn’t new either, and stems from a recent round of Pakistan-backed talks, which collapsed almost immediately when Pakistani officials issued their own preconditions for a settlement.