- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 24, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

I beg to differ with Tuesday’s editorial, “Obama goes wobbly on Afghanistan.” The highly illiterate and impoverished regions of Afghanistan and the nearby portions of Pakistan are under the grip of violent Islamic ideologies. The population centers in Afghanistan are under their grip, even as they disagree with the Taliban on some issues. It may take decades, under the best of the circumstances, to help develop these regions.

But Pakistan will never allow Afghanistan to develop. The Afghan Taliban is sponsored by the Pakistanis who are now, ironically, heavily funded by the United States. The Taliban leadership in Quetta, Pakistan, is nurtured and protected by the state of Pakistan. The Taliban coffers are replenished by funds from the Middle East.

Before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Taliban-ruled Afghanistan was controlled by the state of Pakistan. The Taliban were just a figurehead, while their real handlers were the Pakistanis.

It must be clear where the roots of the problems are. Keeping our troops in Afghanistan, to put it mildly, is highly unfavorable to us and very unfair to our military. Pakistan has the ability and power to decide whether al Qaeda should operate in Afghanistan after we leave there and when the Taliban inevitably take over the reign in Kabul.

It would be foolish not to rethink our strategy for the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. We should be glad that President Obama is wise enough to start asking the right questions.

MOORTHY MUTHUSWAMY

Coram, N.Y.

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