No Afghanistan ‘Checkposts’ Abandoned While Pak Military Offensive Proceeds
A piece in the Pakistan paper the News accused the U.S. military of taking the inexplicable step of abandoning “checkposts” on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border while the Pakistani military offensive in nearby Waziristan intensifies. According to Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s staff, it’s just not true.
The story, by Qudssia Akhlaque, questioned U.S. commitment to Pakistan. “It is feared that the American decision will facilitate Afghan Taliban in crossing over to Pakistan and support militants in striking back at the Pakistani security forces in the troubled tribal area,” Akhlaque wrote. Since Pakistani militant exfiltration into *Afghanistan *is a concern for McChrystal, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces on the Afghan side of the border, it’s hard to know how much sense the move would make.
What makes more sense is that the News has it wrong. “Although border security along the Durand Line is far from perfect, we haven’t relaxed it,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Tadd Sholtis, McChrystal’s spokesman, using a term for the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. “We’ve long maintained that actions taken by the Pakistan government against insurgents is beneficial to the security of Afghanistan, so we have no reason to hinder those operations.”
The most likely explanation is that reporters in Pakistan conflated a long-standing McChrystal push to get rid of troop outposts in far-flung areas and focus on operations in regions of the country with greater population densities. The International Security Assistance Force, also known as ISAF, the NATO command in Afghanistan “has repositioned forces away from some remote outposts in border regions in recent weeks. But those outposts were not border ‘checkpoints,’ and the moves had nothing to do with the Pakistani offensive in South Waziristan,” Sholtis continued. “Those decisions were part of ISAF’s shift in focus toward population centers and protecting the people.”