Three developments came in Afghanistan in August, all pointing in the same direction, that of a lack of American achievement. First was what might prove to be the first of a two-round Afghan election. Then came the revelation that August had proven to be the bloodiest month for the Americans since they had first invaded that country in November 2001. With all this happening, the US commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal made his long-awaited report, which said in milspeak (military language) what many had been saying in plain English for years: that the invasion had failed, or at least not yet succeeded. The earlier developments buttressed that conclusion. The Afghan election was to have been a showpiece. It was supposed to have shown that a country which had only recently been under the benighted rule of the Taliban was now enjoying the boons of democracy, and electing a president for itself in a peaceful and orderly, but above all democratic, fashion, Afghanistan was supposed to be a tribute to the boons of American democracy, and its election was to be the focal point. What was not factored in, was incumbent President Hamid Karzai's desire to be re-elected, and the imperfections of the system that the Americans themselves had put in place. The result was inevitable: one of the messiest elections on record, with the rigging allegations so loud and in so much accordance with the facts, that the Americans themselves have been making it. And this is supposed to ensure that President Karzai does not have to go into a second round. To make the election possible, and in accordance with US President Barack Obama's promise to move troops out of Iraq but into Afghanistan, American troop levels were increased in Afghanistan. However, while they may have provided more security, they also provided the Taliban more targets, so that the highest number of casualties in any given month also coincided with the highest number of US troops. Yet the lesson was that the Americans had failed so far in two crucial tasks: pacifying the country, and training the Afghan national army. As for pacification, the Americans (and their NATO allies) had not eliminated the Taliban's ability to hit out at the occupiers and inflict some damage on them. The evidence was in the fact that the Americans kept on dying. If the Afghan national army (and other security forces) had been trained, then the need for US troops to expose themselves so much would have been eliminated, and the deaths could have been avoided, with their influence on morale. Apparently, while the Soviet invasion was to be fought down to the last Afghan, the present occupation is not being maintained to the last Afghan, but the last American. There have been various results, the most obvious being proof that the USA is not as good at reconstructing nations as its boosters like to claim it is, for Afghanistan is no better than it used to be under the Taliban. Another result has been that Karzai has managed his re-election in the most egregious manner, and has given the West an election which proves that 'lesser breeds' are unable to handle complicated processes only the West really understands. However, the USA did not want this particular reassurance at this particular juncture, but in fact wanted a successful election which would prove to the world that the invasion and occupation was justified by the freedom of choice given to the Afghan people. The election, which the Obama Administration remains committed to, was a major reason why General McChrystal held on to his report. Even now, it remains officially secret, but it apparently does not propose anything radical. In fact, General McChrystal will ask for more troops in a document other than this report. It seems that this report does not address any of the concerns of Pakistan, whose government and armed forces are closely allied to the USA, and being the commander in Afghanistan, General McChrystal should be particularly concerned with Pakistan's concerns. Yet even the drone attacks, which violate Pakistan's sovereignty with each instance, apparently, are not mentioned. True, those attacks are managed by the CIA, and their targets are outside General McChrystal's area of command, but the drone attacks have done more to keep the tribal areas on the boil than any other single American action. As such, General McChrystal should have mentioned the drone attacks as one of his problems. However, he did not, and earlier went on record as a supporter. While this might make him popular in the CIA, this is a policy which continues to alienate ordinary Pakistanis, especially in the tribal areas, with the result that his task becomes all that much harder. General McChrystal has admitted that the situation in Afghanistan is parlous, and his belief that renewed commitment, and dedication, would be enough to manage ultimate victory, may be discounted. General McChrystal, if for nothing else, then for the morale of the troops under his command, would never say in so many words the war in Afghanistan was unwinnable. But, pared down to its essentials, that is exactly what it does say. Therefore, the Pakistan government should be preparing itself for the eventuality it believed could not happen, and the reason why the American alliance was pursued not just by the government and armed forces, but also by the political parties: the Americans departing from this region. Those who do not believe in such a departure have not followed historical precedents, when the US did depart even though the Afghans had just given them victory in the Cold War. US assurances that it wishes to build a permanent relationship with Pakistan and Afghanistan may be discounted, because the USA follows only its own interest, which is presently focused on making India its bulwark against China. If Pakistan and Afghanistan fall in with this, well and good, relations could continue. If not, too bad. Afghanistan has already shown its readiness to accommodate this, and Karzai has gone out of his way to favour India in the hope of currying favour with both countries. However, Pakistan does not accept this Indian claim, and more than Afghanistan, this will prove a problem in any future Pak-US relationship, at the level of the two establishments. This is especially true because Pakistan has a good friendship with China, with both China and Pakistan having been bitten by India in the shape of having had to fight wars with it. The developments in Afghanistan, or related to it, have not shown much positive for Pakistan, except perhaps that Pakistan is not being blamed for any of the bad things that have been developing around Afghanistan. The way things have been recently, that itself is a positive development. E-mail: