Kerry and the AfPak nightmare


Some things never change

If John Kerry thinks he is the glue that can hold Ghani and Abdullah – or for that matter the rest of Afghanistan’s bickering factions – together, he might be surprised not long after his departure at the worst, and around the time of the “ballot audit” at the best. But for now, both presidential candidates have agreed, or rather have been made to agree, on a thorough recount of all votes cast. So Karzai gets to play president for that much longer. Few believe his hands are clean, and Ghani’s turnaround win over the last few weeks owes not to Kabul, or the Pashtuns, but to pure and genuine campaigning and balloting. Anyhow the audit will be complete sooner or later, and one winner declared. That will be a good time to judge Kerry’s impact and imprint on Kabul’s political fault lines.

There was also the matter of Pakistan to contend with while Kerry was in Afghanistan. Having blamed Islamabad for years (for harbouring Taliban and AQ militias) and demanding a military sweep of Waziristan and adjoining tribal agencies, both Washington and Kabul have suddenly gone quiet ever since Zarb-e-Azb demanded a degree of reciprocity on the part of Karzai’s administration. And since, for some time now, Pakistan has blamed Afghanistan’s secret service of aiding and abetting TTP elements on the Afghan side, the Karzai administration’s sudden silence over the issue does not win it many points in the international arena. And certainly none in Pakistan, or for that matter, in America.

To be fair, Kerry has had a tough time as secretary of state. The Arab Spring, the Egyptian crisis, the Syrian crisis, the Iraqi crisis, the Afghan crisis, the Ukraine crisis, and now the Pak army action’s spillover, to name a few, must have consumed his energies. However, it bears noting that on none of the above problems, not to mention the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has his diplomacy been much to write home about. One hopes that at least in the matter of the Afghan political standoff, his good offices will have a more meaningful impact than seems the case elsewhere.


  1. Perhaps in this criticism of USA Secretary of State it might be good to mention that he is doing work that should be done by others…why is it USA responsibility to be negotiating peace for issues like the Arab Spring, Egyptian crisis, Syrian crisis, Iraqi crisis, Ukraine crisis?…those who are quick to criticize USA for imperfections still expect USA to be policeman of the world…

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