All that to say, if you want to see the larger picture (or at least one version of it) of what's happening in Afghanistan and Pakistan, check out this article in the Asia Times: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/ME17Df02.html.
Here's a few sample paragraphs:
Grand visions take time to realize but they seldom die. They may languish but they regenerate and take new unexpected forms. The ''Great Central Asia'' strategy envisioned by the George W Bush administration is most certainly one such grand vision.If this is true, needless to say, we're really not in Afghanistan just to destroyed Al Qaeda or the Taliban. They're more the alibi than the reason. Our real goals are much, much greater.
The complex intellectual construct involved many strokes: The US would expand its influence into Central Asia by rolling back Russia's traditional and China's growing influence there. Washington would encourage New Delhi to work as a partner in Afghanistan and Central Asia, and lay a new Silk Route via South Asia to evacuate the fabulous mineral wealth of the land-locked region, consolidate its presence in Afghanistan on a long-term footing, and establish itself along Xinjiang and Russia's ''soft underbelly''. In so doing, it would create the conditions needed to win the ''new great game'' in Central Asia.
The strategy was unveiled in an article in the summer 2005 edition of Foreign Affairs magazine by Frederick Starr, chairman of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at the John Hopkins University. Starr proposed a matrix for a "Great Central Asia cooperative partnership for development" with the US taking the lead, the five Central Asian states and Afghanistan entering as the main members, and India and Pakistan participating.
Starr wrote, ''The main idea of the proposal is to take the US control of the situation in Afghanistan as an opportunity, promote optional and flexible cooperation in security, democracy, economy, transport and energy, and, make up a new region by combining Central Asia with South Asia. The United States is to shoulder the role of a midwife to promote the rebirth of the entire region."