In eastern and southern Afghanistan, the insurgency has some indigenous support, but the commanders ensconce themselves across the border in Pakistan.
Hawks within Pakistan’s military and intelligence services use the insurgency to blunt the rising influence of their rapidly growing nemesis, India, which strongly supports Mr Karzai’s regime.
While high‐level Pakistani commanders have their own agenda, security forces on the ground could have their own. Pakistan’s paramilitary force, the 80,000-strong Frontier Corps is charged with law enforcement in the Federally Administered Tribal Area and the adjoining Northwest Frontier Province and Baluchistan.
Last October, the US approved the Security Development Programme to “train the trainers” and improve security along the 2,600km border with Afghanistan. But most soldiers are recruited locally from the Pashtun‐dominated provinces and may be unwilling to fight Pashtun militants.
Because Pakistan’s security forces have proved unable – and, at times, unwilling – to uproot militant havens, Washington has decided to tackle the problem itself. Mr Obama has continued his predecessor’s policy of Predator drone missile strikes, which have exacerbated radicalism and pushed militants deeper into Pakistan.
Aerial strikes and other stop‐gap measures will do little to close the strategic drift between Washington and Islamabad. Unless Mr Obama can reassure hawks in Pakistan’s military and intelligence apparatus that India no longer poses a threat to their country (a promise impossible to guarantee) then the stalemate in Afghanistan will persist. Mr Obama must accept the reality that, if the US and Nato want to win in Afghanistan, they need a partner that fights its enemies, not friends.