Can anyone state exactly why foreign troops are in Afghanistan? What is the collective aim, the specific mission, the ultimate objective, of the 60,000 soldiers there? I ask this because, as I write, the news has come in of the deaths of four more British soldiers. And I wonder what they have died for. Just as I wonder why Major Akbar of the Pakistan army, serving with the Mohmand Rifles, had to die in a US bombing attack in Pakistan on June 11. His young widow is left with two daughters, aged two years and eight months. God bless America, anyone? But before sketching the history of foreign military failure in Afghanistan I want to highlight the fact that Pakistan remains host to the largest number of refugees existing in any one country. There is no other nation that has accepted so many displaced people for so long - or has received less international gratitude for its generosity to foreign exiles. There has been attentive care, of course, from the saintly UN High Commission for Refugees whose staff around the world rarely receive the recognition they should. But Pakistan has not received any recognition, either, for its hosting of millions of people. There remain in Pakistan some 1.5 million Afghans who have the status of refugees. They cannot return to their own country, no matter how much they may want to, because it is still in a state of chaos. And the US Government Accountability Office made it clear on Wednesday that there should be no more funding of training for the Afghan army because there is no "coordinated, detailed plan" for its future - after five years of foreign occupation of the country. The situation in Afghanistan would be uproariously funny, because of the inept dabbling by so many western nations, were it not for the fact that the majority of its citizens are in a state of even deeper poverty, fear and despondency than applied when the weird, fanatical, illiterate and psychotic Taliban were in power. After Britain's three Afghan wars the Soviet Union, in a fit of Kremlin madness (for it transpired that it was a gigantic mistake), decided they would succeed where the British had failed, and in they went at the end of 1979 to invade a country which had been doing quite well until the coup that deposed leadership that was not locked in the 17th Century. During the Fourth Afghan War the country was destroyed, and the brutal mujahideen prospered as a result of vast American subsidies. Their viciousness was promoted by tiny-minded gung-ho knuckle-dragging foreigners whose egos were matched only by the size of their moneybags. When the USSR was defeated it was expected that western powers would rally round and help Afghanistan in its time of greatest need. Reconstruction, good governance, establishment of rule of law, were obvious imperatives. Not a bit of it. There is no oil in Afghanistan. It doesn't produce vast quantities of anything marketable, apart from heroin, so was not a desirable plot to be cultivated. But because the Saudi Arabian suicide plane-destroyers in America were guided by a murderous Saudi lunatic who lived in Afghanistan, the place became a priority. Not for development, of course, for that was the last thing in the tiny minds of George Bush and his demented crew: their priority was vengeance. US air attacks destroyed countless villages and an unknown number of Afghans. An assault on the area in which bin Laden was supposed to be hiding was ludicrously unsuccessful, and the story of that bizarre and militarily unprofessional fiasco has yet to be fully told. (I give some details in my next book, but am restricted by having many years ago signed the Official Secrets Act which, as retailed in the wonderful BBC TV series Yes Minister, is "Not there to protect Secrets. It is to protect Officials." There are, however, a couple of interesting tales.) The Afghan brutes who are dignified by the word "warlord" by the western media - for there is something swashbuckling in the word that appeals to hacks and headline writers - but who are only grubby gangsters - had a wonderful time, courtesy of the CIA and MI6. They murdered hundreds of their closest enemies and laughed all the way to their Swiss banks, while their supposedly main target disappeared. Elsewhere, the drug thugs have had an even more vindictive and lucrative time. The Fifth Afghan War has been good for some - especially the scores of corrupt members of the present government in Kabul who have prospered mightily. (Their names are well known by western nations involved in Afghanistan - I had detailed descriptions during my last visit to Kabul.) But last week the ineffectual President Karzai of Afghanistan said that Afghan troops would cross the border into Pakistan to pursue and kill anyone who had been fighting against Afghan or "coalition" forces. This would be a very serious threat were it not for the fact that the US Government Accounting Office has observed that "only two of 105 Afghan army units are considered [operationally] capable," with a third of them able to perform "only with routine international support" - for which read massive bombing strikes such as killed Major Akbar and ten of his soldiers on June 11. Afghanistan is a disaster area. The lives of hundreds of foreign soldiers have been sacrificed by their governments. The army and Frontier Corps of Pakistan have suffered thousands of dead and wounded. For what? The collective wisdom of the condescending west has produced nothing other than anarchy, death, and booming heroin exports. Is there any optimism that the next five years will be any better than the last if present policies apply? What is the future of the Fifth Afghan War? It is time for a common sense approach to Afghanistan by all the clever foreigners who think they know how the country should be governed. Does anyone think that will happen? The writer is a South Asian political and military affairs analyst. He is the author of The History of Pakistan Army.