Strategy

Afghans to U.S.: Don't Abandon Us

President Barack Obama's surge and drawdown plan has brought old anxieties to the surface in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The announcement that American troops could begin pulling out of Afghanistan in as little as 18 months left Afghan foreign minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta, the only minister to comment on the speech, wondering "Can we do it? ...This is not done in a moment. It is a process." In Pakistan, the new strategy raised fears that America would withdraw abruptly, as it did in the 1980s after the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan. There are also concerns in Islamabad, Pakistan's capital, that the short timetable will diminish the country's incentive to cut ties with its Taliban militant allies, whom Pakistan might need to influence the Afghanistan government after America leaves.