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Afghanistan After 2014

  • Date Submitted: 01/26/2012 12:00 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 33.3 
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Afghanistan after 2014

Munir Akram

VIEWED through today’s political telescope, Afghanistan’s future appears as turbulent as it’s past, and ominous for Pakistan.

Hope for peace in Afghanistan was aroused when President Barack Obama declared that US (and Nato) troops would be fully withdrawn from Afghanistan by 2014 and responsibility for security and governance transferred to the Afghan National Army and the Kabul government. Apart from being responsive to domestic American sentiment, withdrawal is sensible, since the principal US aim of destroying Al Qaeda ‘Central’ in Afghanistan has been largely achieved and the Taliban-Pakhtun insurgency is unlikely to be suppressed militarily.

The US secretary of state accepted the natural corollary-negotiations with the Taliban. Some well-publicised initiatives were launched for this purpose. Pakistan offered its help and conveyed the Kayani peace plan.

However, it soon became clear that at least some components of the US administration continued to believe that a political settlement could be militarily imposed on the Taliban. The consistently optimistic assessments of ‘ground realities’ in Afghanistan given by American commanders were contradicted by almost every other observer, American and non-American.

Unfortunately, the militarists’ case was massively reinforced by the raid to kill Osama bin Laden and the ‘success’ of the sharply escalated drone strikes. Secretary Hillary Clinton declared recently that the US will simultaneously “fight, talk and build” in Afghanistan. Until last Friday, the US was able to cajole Pakistan into continuing its cooperation with this unwinnable and self-contradictory strategy.

It is obvious that the American plans to build a 400,000-strong Afghan army and install an effective government by 2014 are unrealistic and unsustainable. The US cannot achieve in two years what it has failed to do in 10. Nor is the US Congress likely to continue allocating over $20bn annually to...

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