President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan believes that terrorism “has not gone away” from the country. “It has increased,” he told the CBS programme ’60 minutes’ that was aired on Sunday night. Putting the blame for the surge on the presence of Nato troops in Afghanistan, he named several “foreign” groups, including the Taliban, which were responsible for increase in militancy. Somehow, he ignored the fact that the Taliban, consisting of local Pashtuns, are a home grown phenomenon and not foreign. It was their government which was in control of most of Afghanistan before the US-led forces had ousted them. President Karzai said that whatever they were they were capable of carrying on with their terrorist activities for another 10 years. “Name them Al-Qaeda, name them the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, name them the Haqqanis or name them the Taliban,” it was immaterial; the reality on the ground was that militancy had increased. It was, therefore, necessary to find out what went wrong for the foreign troops that the militants were able to stage a comeback. General John Allen, the Commander of Isaf, agreed with President Karzai that the terrorist activity was showing an upward trend though he maintained that his objective was to seek them out, target and eliminate them. The reason for this surge despite the 11 years’ of strenuous essay by Nato to root them out, both he and Mr Karzai should realise, is not hard to find. The Afghans are inured to keep fighting, at times lying low at others becoming active, till the enemy wears out. The answer lies in ending the foreign presence.

Another development in the war on terror is the massing of Afghan troops on the Pakistan border and the threat the Governor of Nagarhar that unless the alleged shelling from the Pakistani side ended a retaliatory action has to be taken. On the other hand, the Afghan Foreign Minister wants to settle the issue through diplomatic channels, and the US also says that efforts are being made to reduce the border tension in coordination with Pakistan. Apart from tackling the Afghan accusation of shelling, Islamabad must forcefully plead its genuine case about the fugitive Maulvi Fazlullah of Swat who has taken refuge in the Kunar province and periodically makes forays into Pakistan with his followers. It is in the interest of all the three sides to understand that without the two neighbouring countries closely cooperating with each other, there can neither be a smooth exit for the foreign troops nor would they be leaving behind an atmosphere conducive to peace.