What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Shooting back doesn't directly address the problem

So now Afghanistan's government and its intelligence service says this about Pakistan and its possible involvement in the April assassination attempt against President Karzai - read this excerpt from an AP report below:

" Presidential spokesman Humayun Hamidzada said Tuesday that "the hand of one foreign intelligence agency was clearly involved."
Saleh's spokesman, Saeed Ansari, went further Wednesday, claiming Afghan intelligence could prove Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, was involved.
"The evidence and documents as well as the confessions of people arrested by the
intelligence service shows that the main organizer of the terrorist acts during the 16th anniversary of the mujahedeen victory was the intelligence service of Pakistan and its allies," Ansari said.
Pressed at a news conference for details, Ansari said one piece of evidence was a secret code used during phone conversations between militants. He released a list of phone numbers prefixed with Pakistan's country code, 92, which he said they had used.
However, he said couldn't reveal all the reasons the Afghan agency was certain the ISI was involved because it could compromise its operations. "

The concrete details, as much as will be revealed, will be interesting to see. Nevertheless the timing of the publication of these findings (or rather that of their mere existence) doesn't come just now by chance.
There is increasing pressure from even the U.S. put on Pakistan now. One gets the feeling that we see a surge of impulses with a certain vector, becoming more frequent, accumulating into an impact nearing the critical thresh-old of something.
We of course don't necessarily know realistically what that something should be. So maybe the previous paragraph should be written with empty exclamation marks to give it some sarcastic taste. Like this: Increasing pressure on Pakistan! Accumulating into something! Will be interesting to see!
I think you get it.
That there still is a concerted effort in the direction of something is a conclusion I arrive at seeing how the Afghanistan-wise extremely uninterested media is given stories to chew on with an impact that can be anticipated by the feeders based on the unfortunately reasonable expectation that no smart questions will ever be asked about them.
Consider this detail from a Reuters report which accounted, on June 21, of a whole series of rocket and mortar attacks hitting Afghan territory, killing civilians, from over Pakistan's border:

" Three artillery rounds landed near the ISAF base and three rounds landed inside an Afghan army compound, it said. "ISAF forces determined the origination of the rounds to be in Pakistan and returned artillery fire in self-defense." "

So this tells you that the ISAF unit in question (clearly an American unit, somewhere in northeastern Paktika) determined the POO (point of origin), and then fired back into another country's territory in self-defence.
My problems with this are not of an international legal nature. I'm concerned rather by the more technical aspects, you see. That's because the POO is irrelevant most of the time. Rockets and mortars alike are usually set up in advance by "insurgents" (who don't even necessarily bother to surge in across the border) and either some timer or remote control is used to then launch attacks. Noone's there at the POO when the target responds.
In other words, shooting back only makes sense in order to tell the people on the other side of the border that we do react and we can shoot.
And hopefully there's no collateral damage once we do that.
Talking about this to the press then, on the other hand, is something that can be described as actually a somewhat more direct approach to dealing with cross-border attacks. More direct than shooting back at the POO.
Of course one has to be careful in not overanalysing this. The potential for attention is rather small as it turns out when the results from all over the mainstream media are aggregated.
I remember this excellent, sarcastic comment from someone whose name I don't remember, at a forum, reflecting on the we-found-the-magic-counterinsurgency-formula-and-now-the-local-savages-kind-of-like-us-so-we-don't-get-blown-up-by-the-barbarians meme: "the Iraq war is so over, even if it lasts for ten more years."
The Afghanistan war is so not underway yet, even if it started off in 2001, as one could paraphrase this for the sake of exaggerating in a critical way.

No comments: