S M Hali Last week, US President Barack Obama released his much awaited AfPak strategy review. The President appeared sanguine about the success of his AfPak strategy and said that he was pleased with progress in several areas, and that he has no doubt that the war effort is going better than it was a year ago. However, there appears to be a dichotomy in this approach for two reasons: Firstly, a new poll from The Washington Post and ABC News shows that the support for the war in Afghanistan has dwindled to a new low.The survey says a record-high 60 percent of Americans think the war is not worth fighting, compared to 34 percent who say it is. At the same time, last year 44 percent of the Americans said they did not think the war was worth fighting. Secondly, the US intelligence agencies have given a pessimistic account of military progress in Afghanistan, undercutting the more upbeat assessments from the US military. Some 16 intelligence agencies say in the classified National Intelligence Estimates (NIE) that large parts of Afghanistan are in danger of falling to the Taliban. The pessimistic estimates by USAs intelligence agencies directly contradicts the claim last week by the US Defence Secretary Robert Gates that the army offensive against the Taliban in South Afghanistan is making significant gains. The deep division among the agencies advising Obama, rises from the fact that Pentagon leaders say they believe the counterinsurgency policy has made progress in clearing Taliban fighters out of parts of Afghanistan. A principal objective of the strategy is to expand those areas until they overlap, creating a swath of insurgent-free territory that the US forces can hand to the Afghan authorities. On the other hand, the US spy agencies gave the White House a more gloomy assessment of the counterinsurgency strategy. According to two US officials, pessimism about US prospects is reflected in two National Intelligence Estimates, one about Afghanistan and the other about Pakistan. Those reports were submitted to the White House, as its intelligence agencies contribution to the policy review. Analysts expect the drone strikes to continue and even increase after the Obama administration last week unveiled its year-old strategy in Afghanistan. Due cognisance must be given to an open letterto Obama, signed by over 50 journalists, academics, and retired military personnel with experience in Afghanistan, reminding the President of certain other inconvenient facts: The situation on the ground is much worse than a year ago because the Taliban insurgency has made progress across the country ; the cost of the war is now over $120 billion per year for the US alone, which is unsustainable in the long run; human losses are increasing; and improvements due to military action are neither going to last, nor be replicable in the vast areas not garrisoned by the western forces without a political settlement. The letter urges Obama to negotiate with the Taliban and all other interested parties, including neighbouring countries, so that the US can exit Afghanistan, while safeguarding its legitimate security interests. A five-page unclassified summary of the review noted substantial, but uneven progress in its ties with Islamabad over the last year, emphasising greater cooperation with Pakistan to eliminate safe havens in its border areas. The officials said the estimates represented a differing assessment from the military leaders about the likelihood of significant progress in Afghanistan before next July when Obama says he plans to start winding down US operations. The CIA has been conducting an extensive secret campaign using drones to kill militants in Pakistan. There is broad agreement among senior policymakers that CIA operations are doing major damage to terrorists and the US cannot afford to curtail the drone campaign. However, the attacks have caused theCIA to withdraw its station chief from Islamabad, after his cover was blown in a lawsuit brought by the victims of US drone strikes in the tribal belt. The rising collateral damage resulting from the attacks is causing serious reprisals amongst the Pakistanis. USAs AfPak Strategy has already suffered a jolt with the demise of Holbrooke. But his parting words, the war in Afghanistan must stop, must be heeded, as the new US strategy should be to wind up the war in Afghanistan, instead of urging Pakistan to do more. The writer is a political and defence analyst.