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IN recent years there has been a growing acknowledgment among both Western and regional players that talking to the Afghan Taliban needs to be a multipronged effort involving not just Afghanistan but also the United States, other Western powers, Pakistan and some of the Gulf states. This has led to some inefficient overlaps that have likely also confused the process, and it isn’t clear what these players mean by an ‘Afghan-led process’ when they’ve all been involved. But the basic idea is a sound one: that the Taliban don’t trust the Afghan government, that therefore the US and neutral countries are needed to move the process forward, and that Pakistan has a role in releasing Afghan prisoners and facilitating the Taliban’s passage for talks. Recent events, including Pakistan’s release of prisoners and public declarations of collaboration between Kabul and Islamabad on the peace process, have supported that idea. So the Afghan government’s very public accusations on Wednesday that Pakistan is not cooperating — and that it wants to see “the fragmentation of the Afghan state” — threatens to undo the progress that has been made.

The nature of the Afghan foreign minister’s remarks suggested that they stemmed from a couple of specific concerns. First, the Afghan government — and Mr Karzai’s — fear of being marginalised as a number of countries try to steer the situation in Afghanistan as the Americans leave. Second, a concern that Pakistan is talking to the Afghan opposition as well. Mr Karzai’s accusation earlier this month that the US is colluding with the Taliban in order to provide justification for an extended presence there smacked of similar suspicions about the intentions of other countries. But Afghanistan’s current transition cannot be successful without the participation of the West and the region and without a broad-based dialogue with Afghans, including the current government, the Taliban and other ethnic groups. Mr Karzai would do well to concentrate on that broader picture if he wishes to leave behind a legacy of successfully moving Afghanistan into the next phase of its history.

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Comments (4) Closed

Mar 29, 2013 12:22pm
While you the powers are fighting among your selves on the future of this country, has anyone asked the people who own the country as to what they want?Has any census been taken?What is the want of the average Afghanistani.
Cyrus Howell
Mar 29, 2013 02:44pm
What is the want of the (young) average Afghanistani? Marriage and a house.
Amin Amdani
Mar 29, 2013 08:52pm
We thought you raika45 had figured it out
Mar 30, 2013 04:58am
What you've failed to mention is that the United States, the European Union and 'some Gulf states' have a role in brokering peace due to their economic and political clout. The only reason Pakistan gets to weigh in is because the Afghan Taliban are a virtual arm of Pakistan's security establishment. The Afghan government's allegations are based on ground realities, and I suspect they're too busy fighting the murderous thugs who act as Pakistan's proxies to care about Pakistan's hurt feelings.