close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
January 15, 2019

The take in Washington from Afghanistan in 2018

Islamabad

January 15, 2019

To clearly understand the voices coming from Washington on Afghanistan, the following seems to be honest appraisals and coherent insight into the burning issue.

Noted journalist Pamela Constable wrote in The Washington Post recently: “Everyone, it seems, is pushing for peace in Afghanistan these days. President Trump’s special envoy is racing around the region, trying to drum up support for talks with the insurgent Taliban. The Russians, eager to get into the act, have hosted a conference on the issue. The Pakistanis insist they want to help end the war. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani hopes to win reelection in April as the man who brought peace to his country after 17 years. The Taliban, however, seems to be in no hurry at all.”

Earlier, in August 2018, columnist Max Boot commented in the Washington Post: “There are certain enduring rituals in US foreign policy that are pursued whether they have any chance of success. Every administration since Franklin D. Roosevelt’s has tried to improve relations with Moscow. Every administration since Harry S Truman’s has tried to solve the Israeli-Arab dispute. Every administration since Jimmy Carter’s has tried to persuade the Iranian mullahs to behave better. And every administration since Bill Clinton’s has tried to negotiate with the Taliban.”

Max Boot added: “The only thing preventing the fall of the government is the presence of 14,000 US troops. But the United States’ determination to remain in Afghanistan after nearly 17 years is wearing thin… If you were the Taliban, why would you negotiate now? From the Taliban’s perspective, an agreement would only make sense if, like the Paris Peace Accords with North Vietnam in 1973, it was supposed to provide the United States a ‘decent interval’ between its pullout and the defeat of its local allies.”

Jason Lyall of Yale University came out with five key lessons from Taliban’s deadly resurgence in 2018, especially the attack on Ghazni: He said that (1) Talking and fighting are complements, not substitutes for the Taliban. (2) Afghan forces are nowhere near ready to stand on their own. (3) The Afghan government has a major credibility problem. (4) The Taliban can’t capture cities but that may not matter. (5) Air power is not a silver bullet.

Lyall concluded: “We are unlikely, then, to see any substantial reductions in violence in the near term as negotiations with the Taliban continue. While temporary cease-fires may be honored, the Taliban will continue to seek tactical, often temporary, battlefield victories, until convinced that its political demands will be met. Talking and fighting might lead eventually to a negotiated settlement, but the path to that settlement is likely to be long and bloody.”

The Wall street Journal in a piece commented: “Afghan and US government estimates put the number of Taliban as high as 70,000 fighters, including underground supporters and regular and auxiliary fighters. The movement has broadened beyond its ethnic Pashtun base to include Afghans of all ethnic backgrounds.

“It is capable of implementing governance policy across a large territory from top to bottom,” according to Ashley Jackson, a researcher who surveyed 20 districts controlled at least in part by the Taliban.

“Experts say the Taliban’s unity, largely maintained throughout its existence and shown in a three-day cease-fire this summer, is remarkable for an insurgency. That suggests the leadership could enforce any peace deal it signs.

“The Taliban have strong command-and-control that they demonstrated in a nationwide cease-fire in which tens of thousands of fighters to a person obeyed,” said Johnny Walsh, formerly lead adviser on the Afghan peace process at the US State Department.”

Meanwhile, Pakistan has actively demonstrated its diplomatic outreach for making the peace process a success. Pakistan has facilitated the first round of negotiations. In the aftermath, Pakistan’s foreign minister has carried out shuttle diplomatic tour of Afghanistan, Iran, China and Russia, taking these important regional players into confidence about the progress in talks.

Topstory minus plus

Opinion minus plus

Newspost minus plus

Editorial minus plus

National minus plus

World minus plus

Sports minus plus

Business minus plus

Karachi minus plus

Lahore minus plus

Islamabad minus plus

Peshawar minus plus