My dear Muhammad Ali: They love funny names and acronyms, dont they? Americas new 'AfPak strategy if one can call it a strategy on Pakistan and Afghanistan seems confused and incomplete and not much different from the Old Bush strategy: lower head, extend horns CHARGE However, one has been able to garner from President Obamas speech that two new realisations, obvious though they were to us from the beginning, have finally dawned upon America, and not a moment too soon: military force alone will not help solve Americas Afghan 'problem and Pakistan is pivotal to any solution. No one has ever been able to defeat or subjugate the Pathans. So after a thrashing America finally has concluded that negotiations must take place in tandem with force to find a political solution. And without Pakistans goodwill and cooperation there is no way out. As always, Americas actions dont match its words. For example, if brute force alone is not the way out, then why the surge? Just because General Patreaus thinks that it worked in Iraq (we still have to see if it really has) you dont commit another 17,000 troops to Afghanistan. The issues are different. It will only make matters worse. It will provide the Taliban with 17,000 more targets. Apart from the fact that the Taliban have vowed that 2009 will be the bloodiest year in Afghanistan (and I would take them really seriously) many more uncontrollable Taliban fighters will be pushed into Pakistan when it can hardly control those already here. Pushing your problems onto your neighbour without whom you cannot do anyway and which you now acknowledge is pivotal makes no sense whatsoever. If you knock out the pivot the entire house of cards falls. America should understand that cooperation does not mean mindless following of inevitably harebrained prescriptions. It means listening to the pivot that knows Afghanistan better than you do. It means listening to the one country that has defeated the Russians where Napoleon and Hitler failed. Unfortunately, AfPak is incomplete the usual head in the sand malaise. Wheres India? A lot of terrorism in Pakistan and in the subcontinent is fomented by Indias expansionist inclinations and desire for domination. Worse, a whole army of disenchanted, disenfranchised Indian Muslim youth is coming up because they and their forebears have been treated like second-class citizens. Solve Afghanistan and Pakistan and you solve nothing because youre still left with India, an unstable, hegemonic, unnatural cancer in the region. Include India in the equation because rising Muslim extremism there influences extremism in Pakistan. Why, now we are hearing of the 'Indian Taliban. Thus Kashmir must be solved and Indias consulates along the Pakistan-Afghan border closed. Pretending that it can act as Americas policemen in the region is just so much poppycock, else why is America asking China to 'prove that it is a 'responsible country by sending troops to Afghanistan? The Chinese arent crazy. Why should they pull Americas chestnuts out of the fire? What I found really cute was that there would be no 'blank cheques for Pakistan any longer. This begs the question: when were there blank cheques anyway? They go on and on with their dirge about the $10 billion they have given us since 9/11. Half of that was payment due to us anyway. Half of the other half was for civilian use. With what brazen facility they can turn things around. After 9/11 America was literally begging us for help, and showing us visions of untold benefits to seduce us if we did. Five billion? Have a heart when you have already wasted more then two trillion dollars in losing the Afghan war and another $7 trillion in Iraq. Now they would have us believe that we are begging to do their dirty work for them in exchange for some pittance. Truth to tell, they owe us trillions for the amount we have suffered for them since December 25, 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded and occupied Afghanistan. I wish we had governments that would send America the invoice. We should tell them to take their blank dollar cheques, which are going to be worthless very soon anyway, and go make cigarettes with them. We can and will live without and become a truly independent nation. The way people would galvanise behind such a sacrifice will amaze everyone. If only we would for once have the government that we in truth dont deserve but which we need badly to take us out of the status of underlings. China got such a government in October 1949, didnt it, and it wasnt by elections I can assure you. America has left no stone unturned to undermine Pakistans military and its admirable intelligence agency, the ISI. The US Chairman JCSC, Admiral Mike Mullen, went so far as to himself question whether the ISI and the army were not playing a double game, secretly helping the Taliban or certain elements within it, while putting up a show of helping America. So when the ISI chief General Pasha refused to meet Mullen and Richard Holbrooke last week, he signalled that Pakistan would not take Americas crap any more, its deliberate intelligence leaks to the media to undermine us and that our relations are fast reaching the nadir. Look at how it boosted Pakistani morale, their ISI chief refusing to meet Mullen and Holbrooke. Just because the ISI may be talking to some Taliban or other Afghan commanders or leaders doesnt imply that they are with them or supporting them. It means that Pakistan is doing what America should have been doing a long time ago talking to its adversaries to find a non-military solution and an early end to the war and leave Afghanistan to the Afghans. But then there is that small matter of Americas old ally Mr Osama Bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda. If America leaves Afghanistan the Taliban will almost certainly return to power. It is written as clearly as these words on this page that you are reading. What guarantee is there that they will not allow Osama to use Afghanistan as an Al-Qaeda base again from where to plot and plan against America once more? The only guarantee is a massive development plan for Afghanistan. The money allocated should be regarded as reparation, not aid or loan, however soft, so that the Taliban government does not have to turn to Osama Bin Laden for money as it had to pre-9/11. Recognise the government, open embassies there and help them, keep them engaged and gradually bring them into the international mainstream. They made the mistake of turning their face away the last time and pretending that the Taliban didnt exist and see what happened. The best sound byte Ive heard is Americas new prescription for the Afghan Taliban: Disrupt, dismantle and defeat. How? With another 17,000 cannon fodder seduced to fight Americas dirty wars for it in return for possible accelerated nationality? Do mercenaries and this is exactly what they are have any commitment to the cause (even if they know what it is) and fight with their lives for it? I wonder. Makes one want to reach for the nearest John Wayne movie. But Mr Obama forgot the real 'D in the sound byte, a 'D that is one potent weapon America has against the Third World. That 'D stands for 'Democracy western style for it is sure to throw up the most rotten governments that America can do business with in other words satraps and stooges. Dont get confused: it wasnt the Westminster type electoral process that threw up Hamas and Ahmedinejad. It was homegrown. President Obama was absolutely right when he said that terrorism is a cancer that is consuming Pakistan. He recommends surgery. What he forgets is that there are cancers and there are cancers. There are primary cancers and there are secondary cancers. Primary cancers cause secondary cancers. Pakistan is suffering from more than one kind of cancer, some primary and some secondary, but the cancer of terrorism is a secondary cancer. Unless you get rid of the primary cancer that caused the secondary cancer you will cure nothing. The primary cancer is Americas meddling in the region, its incompetence and its inefficiency, its imperialism and desire to cast the world in its image exclusively for its own good. That cancer must go if we are to find a cure not only to terrorism in Pakistan but everywhere else, for this primary cancer fortifies other primary cancers too, like Israel subjugating the Palestinians and India the Kashmiris. We have been trying to cure it softly, with radiology and chemotherapy. But it just wont regress. The time is not far when surgery will be the only option. Thats what Iran did and got rid of many a secondary cancer. There is still time for America to prevent this. It can have only one AfPak strategy: take Pakistans help to negotiate with the Taliban and get out of Afghanistan with as much dignity and self-respect as it can. The writer is a senior political analyst. E-mail: humayun.gauhar@gmail.com