Straight from the Specialists
(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)
Notwithstanding Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s disinclination to participate in talks, the Taliban retain the ability to calibrate violence levels in large parts of the country. But even if an understanding is reached with the Taliban, it does not hold the promise of lasting peace. Breakaway factions will find support and funding to continue bloodletting.
It is necessary to take stock of Kabul’s problems and find strong regional partners as anchors in unison with the depleted NATO/American establishment after the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) drawdown. Kabul’s foremost problem is fielding well-trained forces. The ISAF has apparently reached the numbers it had set as its target but the forces fail to inspire confidence. Continued intensive training is required.
The inherent infirmities of the Afghan National Security Forces are also major hurdles. Desertion, drug abuse and literacy levels, even among the officer corps, inhibits trainability.
Over 90 percent of Afghanistan’s budget is funded by other nations. The government in Kabul can survive only if the flow of aid is ensured. The collapse of Mohammad Najibullah’s government in 1992 was a direct fallout of Russian aid dwindling. Connected issues include drugs and the rampant corruption that Karzai has not been able to stem, and Kabul may find it even more difficult tomorrow with local leaders trying to extract a price for continued support.
(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)
As Washington closed down for the Independence Day holiday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly apologised to Pakistan for the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers inadvertently killed by a NATO military strike along the Afghan border last November.