Bonn conference

President Hamid KarzaiThe international conference on Afghanistan recently held in Bonn has seen participating states pledge a 10-year commitment after the complete withdrawal of foreign forces in 2014.

This commitment entails economic aid and development support in helping Afghanistan develop stronger institutions and implement good governance.  The terms  are challenging. Corruption, accountability, drug production and difficulties in implementing development projects are only some of the major issues  facing Kabul. The bigger worry centres around the national security forces’ operational capability and making a breakthrough in negotiations with the insurgents. President Hamid Karzai faces an uphill task in improving governance and dealing with corruption within his administration, issues that have been raised over and over again by his Coalition allies.

The good thing is that the Afghans have been reassured of continued support by the world community. There were widespread apprehensions regarding a repeat of the post Soviet scenario when Washington’s  loss of interest resulted in an implosion of internal conflict between warring factions and eventually the ascent of the Taleban to power. Peace and stability, however, are relative factors whose attainment  in the given scenario remains dependent on any breakthrough in negotiations with the insurgents.

The question is how negotiation efforts will be affected if Pakistan, a key player in the reconciliation strategy decides to also boycott negotiation efforts. Its boycott of Bonn in protest over the Nato attack that killed 24 of its soldiers at the border has led to consternation in Washington and Kabul. Pakistan is also facing immense pressure for not starting operations against the Haqqanis allegedly present in its tribal areas.

This key issue along with incidents such as the recent Nato attack are things that need to be immediately sorted out. While most of the coalition’s objectives have been met vis-à-vis Al Qaeda, the issue of Afghanistan’s security and stability remains now tied to defeating or at least reaching a political settlement with the insurgents. This is something the coalition and Kabul must also review since at present a dual policy pursuing two contradictory paths are being followed. Even while fighting insurgents on the battleground, negotiations are being sought which is a contradiction in itself. – Khaleejnews