HUFFINGTON POST
06/16/2010 07:05 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Group Behind Mumbai Bombings Expands To Afghanistan

Group behind Mumbai bombings expands to Afghanistan. The Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militia is believed to be active in six to eight Afghan provinces and to have orchestrated at least three large attacks against Indian government staff and Afghan workers over the past several months. Many observers suspect the LeT is acting as a proxy for the Pakistan government, which seeks to curb India's influence in Kabul. The Pakistan government denies the charge. [NYT]

McChrystal's failed strategy. Former Clinton aide Philip Galston says that while we should try to prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a terrorist staging-camp, it seems the strategy President Obama outlined in December won't achieve that goal. In Marjah, U.S. troops are locked in a deadly stalemate with insurgents, and Afghan authorities are nowhere near capable of fighting the Taliban themselves. Residents of Kandahar, according to a survey recently completed by NATO, fear the Afghan army and police more than they do the Taliban and overwhelmingly favor a peace accord with the Taliban. Meanwhile Karzai, knowing it's only a matter of time before U.S. troops withdraw from the country, is trying to reconcile with the Taliban. And evidence is mounting that the Taliban is funded and influenced by the Pakistan government, which means that to beat the Taliban entirely, NATO would need to overthrow the Pakistan government. Galston says he hopes the Obama administration will approach Afghanistan pragmatically, and not "confuse hopes with facts and orient policy around sunk costs rather than future prospects." [The New Republic]

Petraeus confirms withdrawal will begin in 2011. But the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East told members of the Senate armed services committee that the withdrawal would be gradual and would respond to conditions on the ground. Petraeus would not rule out recommending Obama send more troops to Afghanistan beyond the 30,000 the president pledged last December, though Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy stressed that July 2011 would "mark the end of the surge." [Washington Post]

Fighting a "civic war." Times reporter James Traub looks at counterinsurgency efforts in Kandahar's Arghandab district, which is frequently visited by NATO generals: the troops deployed there were praised by a Canadian general for "truly understanding and operationalizing counterinsurgency theory." But troops in Arghandab face challenges similar to those present in other areas of the country, including corrupt government officials, incompetent local leaders, and resourceful but widely unpopular warlords. Arghandab suffered a considerable setback this week when its district governor was killed by insurgents. [NYT]

Taliban claims it captured 40 Pakistani troops. A Taliban spokesman said militants captured the troops after a Monday cross-border raid in the Mohmand tribal area, and Pakistan authorities have confirmed that several of their troops are missing. Though cross-border raids are relatively common, the Taliban rarely capture Pakistani soldiers. This raid comes after the Taliban denied charges that it is supplied and partly controlled by Pakistan's intelligence agency. [BBC]