The Washington Post claims to have gained access to the 'confidential report' submitted by General McChrystal about US' current strategy in Afghanistan. Decrying the approach, so far, maintained by the foreign troops as being dominated by "protection of our forces", a radical change of stance to ensure broad interaction with the people, "we seek to protect," is emphatically recommended by him. For him, the prevailing procedure creates a "crisis of confidence" among the Afghans which is aggravated by the messy governance the of Karzai government. Advocating security for the Afghans as the primary mission, he goes on to recommend an increase in forces. The general also appreciates the advanced nature of the Taliban 'insurgency' and the inadequacy of NATO contingents to face up to the challenges springing from the same. He wants more troops including the Afghan - complement whose training must be seriously geared up to forestall a failure. The general also indicates that the status quo would result in "a longer conflict, greater casualties, higher costs and ultimately, a critical loss of political support." Such leaks are an anfractuous part of the US institutions. Nobody can forget the impact created by the 'deep throat' or some serious attempts at finding a diversion from the oppressive norms imposed by George W Bush in the name of War on Terror. Accordingly one can infer that the disclosure made by the Washington Post testifies to the current confusion created on the Capitol Hill by the multiple setbacks in Afghanistan. More so as it comes after the surge of US troops to ensure 'fair and free' presidential polls. The president had to bite the bullet betting on the advice of his army top brass. Basing such a move on their success, though short-lived, in handling the Iraqi mess, the proponents had raised expectations of the political elite for a welcome leap-forward for the US also in Afghanistan. Unfortunately for the planners, the move, generally, appears to have failed miserably as is clearly reflected by the ground realities. First, July/August ended up as the worst months ever for the US troops, particularly, as their own death toll rose to a hundred besides many times more on the DI-list/laid-off. Second, the Taliban had warned the US that any such surge would invite more attacks and that they would go all out to induce the Afghans to stay away from the 'polls-drama'. Predictably they killed the biggest number of the foreign forces and also wrecked the turnout visibly. The harassment Kabul saw during the election week would make a landmark in the history of that unhappy country. Even NATO HDQ and Presidential Palace could not be provided security against the attacks by the Taliban. Such daring raids sent a chill over the country, particularly, in the South/East. Third, as if this was not enough, cries of foul play by Karzai started emerging right during the polling day from other candidates including the leading Tajik contender, Abdullah, a former foreign minister. Subsequently the IEC also cast serious aspersions on the whole process in view of the mounting number of complaints received by them. Apparently the Taliban had won the day as Karzai lingers on surviving barely as a man "wandering between two worlds, one dead, the other powerless to be born" as Matthew Arnold would have said. Fourth, with the poll results still in a quandary, Afghanistan faces a devastating uncertainty so much so its people are, generally, living on a razor's edge. Lady luck also appeared to be smiling on the Taliban. The massacre of the civilians in Kunduz due to a petrified reaction of the local German commander/colonel caused by the imprudent use of airpower has done a great damage to the US. As one local said, soon Kunduz would be like Helmand for the foreign forces. General McChrystal, defying the advice of his German colleagues, visited the place of occurrence and felt outraged at the decision of bombing and subsequent handling of the situation. Various sources indicate that about 150 persons got killed in the tragedy. As the controversy surfaced, the German foreign minister backed his own colonel while his French counterpart cautioned concerning the misuse of aerial bombing against civilians. Finally, even Chancellor Merkel had to team up with Gordon Brown of UK to ask for a serious probe into the distressing incident while expressing conditional regrets for the loss of life. Sensing the danger of the 'insurgency' spreading to his northern stronghold in the aftermath of such a grievous blow, even Abdullah changed his tone. He told CNN that the Afghans regarded the foreign forces as "occupation forces" due to the large-scale mismanagement, corruption and absence of security as well as the rule of law. For those who know the area and its history, this appears to be a sea change prompted by the gross inefficiency/lack of commitment on the part of the US' underling as well as his mentors. President Barack Obama like a statesman kept his cards close to his chest. Appreciating that the reverses suffered by the status quo in Afghanistan were instrumental in plunging the support for the ongoing war, he advised prudence. Lately, even many Democrats have voiced their disagreement with the administration's policy. The president, however, opined that he would not say anything about any increase in the US forces till the new strategy was finally decided. At best this could be a breather. On the occasion of Eid, the Taliban appear to have tempered their attacks. This could change drastically all of a sudden. General McChrystal's projected paradigm presages perilous exposure of his troops to widespread attacks. While his avowed objective of providing security to the Afghans exudes his professional commitment, knowing Afghan culture it may boomerang as being too little too late. First, the massive killings by the foreign forces over the last eight years have set off such resentment which would not die down in the light of the Afghan traditions. Second, a further spread of forces may prove to be a spin of the dice. Such exposure entails enormous expenditure besides the possibility of more deaths. Third, considerable emphasis appears to be placed on the aggressive use of money as well as CIA, like in Iraq, to woo the local people. This may also become a moot point, as the Afghans frustration with the US is writ large. Since the Bonn Conference dream turned sour due to the continuing chaos to the extent that even the foreign troops feel insecure, hoping for a reversal of fortunes appears far-fetched. Fourth, if casualties mount along-with the expenditure, it would complicate the US domestic scene. As is well known, Secretary Gates, being an intelligence guru, does not relish expanding "US footprints" in Afghanistan. This reflects his sense of history as well as unique knowledge of the area. Lastly, the enthusiasm of the NATO forces appears to be discreet besides their reported lack of latest equipment etc. This further haunts the US forces. President Obama will have to "be wise today, its madness to defer." Pakistan, though mired in distress and colossal suffering, avoidable/unavoidable, may help Obama avoid making Woodrow Wilson's fear come true: "America cannot be an ostrich with its head in the sand." The writer is a former secretary interior. E-mail: imnor@brain.net.pk