STUDY: How the Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan Have Become One Larger Conflict

[ 0 ] June 2, 2015

by NETA C. CRAWFORD for THE COSTS OF WAR PROJECT (WATSON INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDIES AT BROWN UNIVERSITY) on MAY 22, 2015: 

SUMMARY EXCERPT: This report summarizes the separate toll of war on civilians in Afghanistan and  Pakistan and describes some of the ways the wars in each of those countries, while still having distinct features and dynamics, have become one larger conflict.2 The two wars are linked in several ways. Afghan civilians have fled the war to neighboring states, including Pakistan, in large numbers. United States drone strikes in Pakistan are in service of both the larger war on terror and aimed to kill anti-government militants in Pakistan who have fled from Afghanistan or who are attempting to destabilize and overthrow Afghanistan’s government. Drone strikes kill Pakistani civilians as well as their intended targets.

The US also supports Pakistan’s ground and air war against militant organizations, such as the Pakistani Taliban, which has led to growing numbers of civilian casualties in Pakistan. Pakistan’s attacks on militants have also included cross-border shelling into Afghanistan, which has led to displacement and caused some deaths and injuries in Afghanistan. Finally, international military forces have transported food, fuel, and equipment through Pakistan to Afghanistan, and militants have repeatedly attacked the vehicles, leading to civilian deaths.This report describes the two kinds of war-related death and injury: direct deaths due to violence, and deaths caused indirectly due to the effects of the destruction of infrastructure and displacement. The focus is on direct deaths since it is very difficult to estimate the toll of indirect death in Afghanistan and Pakistan (AfPak).

Although the US stated in December 2014 that it would soon withdraw from Afghanistan, the war there has grown in destructiveness over the past year and the Obama administration announced on 24 March 2015 that it would keep the same level of troops in Afghanistan through 2015. By contrast, the war in Pakistan has seen decreased intensity in recent years, though it is still a very hot conflict in the northwest region of the country. KEEP READING

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Neta C. Crawford is Professor of Political Science at Boston University and Co-Director of the Costs of War Project.

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Category: Americas, Asia, Politics & Current Events, Security & Civil Liberties, Surveys & Studies

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