The key to solving the puzzle of Afghanistan is Pakistan

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Recent setbacks in Afghanistan — from the fall of Kunduz to the errant U.S. bombing of a hospital in that city — again raise a question. Why, after 14 years of American military efforts, is Afghanistan still so fragile? The country has a democratically elected government widely viewed as legitimate. Poll after poll suggests that the Taliban are unpopular. The Afghan army fights fiercely and loyally. And yet, the Taliban always come back.
The answer to this puzzle can be found in a profile of the Taliban’s new leader, Akhtar Mohammad Mansour. It turns out that Mansour lives part time in Quetta, the New York Times reports, “in an enclave where he and some other Taliban leaders . . . have built homes.” His predecessor, Mohammad Omar, we now know, died a while ago in Karachi. And of course, we remember that Osama bin Laden lived for many years in a compound in Abbottabad. All three of these cities are in Pakistan.