The US policy appears to be under great strain which may reflect the effect of mounting losses following the surge. July may carry a high benchmark of US etc soldiers dying in action while one marine has been captured by the Paktika 'insurgents'. No wonder, the statements issued by the US administration are rather confusing. Secretary Gates last week berated EU/Canadian troops for being unqualified to conduct COIN operations. He urged them to tone up their capability as the US could not wait more than one year to clinch a result. Of late, there has been a hue and cry in London media, prompted by the loss of support for the on-going war, alleging that the British troops are not well-equipped to fight in Afghanistan. Gordon Brown has been making regular claims of doing the needful. Gates subsequently announced the dispatch of more troops and a three-year timeframe. Joe Biden, on the other hand, complimented the British forces last week in London while trying to toot the "national interest" aspect of the war in Afghanistan. Like the out-going NATO chief, Schaffer, he projected the war as a security-guarantee for US/EU etc. To neutralise the tensions thickening due to the worsening ground realities, Joe predicted "more loss of life" as "inevitable" while emphasising the status of the mission. Quite understandably, Gordon Brown also appeared to be on board with the stated-position despite the belated British bereavement. However, the media, generally, see the combat as an avoidable affliction induced by the US. Malalai Joya has been a newsmaker in her country since she got elected as Member of Parliament in 2005. Having been bestowed bravery by nature, her conduct as a politician was writ-large in all she did to promote 'democracy'. Even earlier she was known to have clandestinely run teaching-hubs for girls while the Taliban ruled the roost. Her public life, as such, was dominated by her liberal/altruistic struggle for women's rights within the fold of democracy till she was shown the door for speaking up. She carried on her mission quite undaunted by threats and attempts on her life. Now she has lost hope due to the prevailing corruption, warlord-sway, insecurity etc. Joya has written about her disillusionment in The Guardian under the caption, The big lie of Afghanistan. Branding "the so-called liberation a big lie" she terms Afghan democracy "a faade." She blames "...continuing domination of the fundamentalists" and "a brutal occupation that ultimately serves only American strategic interests in the region" for the betrayal of Afghan hopes. Being mindful of the trauma suffered by Afghans over the years, she sympathised with the British families whose dear-ones had perished in action. Refuting Joe Biden's above-referred stance, Joya reminds the British of their own interest and counsels not "to see more of your young people sent off to war, and to have more of their taxpayers' money going to fund an occupation that keeps a gang of corrupt warlords and drug lords in power in Kabul." Regarding the forthcoming presidential elections, she believes that "the real choice will be made behind the closed doors in the White House." Adding that the outcome would be like the Afghan proverb: "The same donkey with a new saddle." Displaying dourness of the Afghan, she ends her article: "The Afghan people want peace, and history teaches that we always reject occupation and foreign domination." Prima facie, it is a very disturbing disposition for the US. If a liberal like Joya also ends up thinking that her country is under 'occupation', then it smacks of being a wild goose chase. However, what she said only speaks of the local culture as reflected by their history. The US gives the impression of presiding over the ill effects of failures of the last seven years which got compounded by the alienation of its forces with the public. As per the UN, massive corruption is also shared by US contractors etc which complicates the scenario further. Former Ambassador Chas Freeman had analysed that the US intelligence /policy fumbles in an address in June this year to DACOR entitled Foregone Conclusions: Vested Interests and Intelligence Analysis. After giving a brilliant account of the powerful lobbies which have been successfully dominating US policy/intelligence, he asserts: "You do not have to be a realist to notice discrepancies between the predicted results of policies and their actual catastrophic consequences." However, regrettably the wheel grinds on raising the costs for the average American besides damaging US goodwill the world over. Miliband's weekend disclosure in Brussels that UK was going to scale down 'Operation Panther' claw's sounded glum despite extensive sophistry on his part. Urging fair elections in August, he advised Kabul to take "more responsibility." As NATO is already distraught about Afghanistan, UK's fresh stance would raise the temperature for the Americans deployed recently. On the contrary, the 'insurgents' remain focused on their mission of ending the 'occupation'. Newsweek has published a thriller in its latest issue claiming that Mullah Omar has empowered his No 2, Mullah Baradar, to run the war while the former remains in hiding. The weekly projects the proxy to be a deadlier fighter than his boss. Meanwhile an AP report indicated that US forces in Badghis province in the Northwest have made a ceasefire agreement with the local Taliban which would provide relief to the former. If the US treats Afghanistan as a war, then it has to shoulder the burdens let loose by changing ground realities. Fatigue appears to be setting in among the foreign forces. The situation may get worse in August although already, as per BBC, 73 soldiers had died till day-before. Pakistan and US must seriously deliberate on the developing crisis. Bad faith should give way to solidarity dictated by the sense of purpose. Quite often, aspersions are cast on their ally by the officials that create resentment against the US, even though Pakistan is fighting a full-fledged war. The losses in terms of death and destruction are yet to be calculated once the IDP get back home and Rehabilitation starts. Unfortunately, except US, paltry assistance has been received by us. To add insult to injury, the IDP did not get a fair deal, generally, because of the state's gawky gear. Pakistan is living through a terrible phase. Reports indicate that the returnees get no rations. Afghanistan is not Vietnam. US can't just pull out like it did from Saigon of yore. Such a move would deprive her of developing Central Asian/Caspian vast energy resources. The AfPak is the roundabout of the world. When Soviet Empire collapsed, thanks to the Afghan War, US abandoned it in a hurry to assume the style of the only superpower. It proclaimed a New World Order and the neo-cons designed their 'The American Century'. Now it is a different world wherein she has made a nuclear alliance with India dictated by new strategy. The role of Pakistan would remain crucial. Only she can help, besides the Saudis, to reach a negotiated settlement based on Afghan/Islamic traditions to stop fighting and start development/rehabilitation work earnestly. Security, normalcy, development in AfPak would be the best Insurance against any threat to US, EU etc. It will also guarantee the flow of energy to human enterprises. The writer is a former secretary interior