Pakistan: Now or Never?

Perspectives on Pakistan

Time to think about Afghanistan end-game?


Afghan girl in Taloqan/Fabrizio BenschBritain’s commander in Afghanistan has said the war against the Taliban cannot be won and suggested talks with the group might be a way of making progress.

“We’re not going to win this war. It’s about reducing it to a manageable level of insurgency that’s not a strategic threat and can be managed by the Afghan army,” Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith said in an interview with the Sunday Times.

“If the Taliban were prepared to sit on the other side of the table and talk about a political settlement, then that’s precisely the sort of progress that concludes insurgencies like this,” he said. “That shouldn’t make people uncomfortable.”

Women in Taloqan/Fabrizio BenschHis comments are perhaps not quite as startling as they first appear. NATO commanders and diplomats have been saying for some time that the Taliban insurgency cannot be defeated by military means alone and that negotiations will ultimately be needed to bring an end to the conflict. In some ways, it’s almost stating the obvious since insurgencies are never totally defeated and all sides have to sit down and negotiate at some point.