Talks are the only way in Afghanistan


How to prevent total chaos in the country


Talks are the only way to keep Afghanistan secure and in one piece. The Afghan Taliban should therefore withdraw the precondition of the exit of all foreign troops to start the talks. The Afghan government should in turn accept the offer for talks. If asked by Kabul Pakistan should host the dialogue. Obama has agreed to keep 5,500 troops beyond 2016. Meanwhile, Kabul should make use of the period to strengthen its security forces which alone will have to bear the burden of looking after the security and territorial integrity of their country in a challenging environment.

Fourteen years after the US invasion, about one-fifth of Afghanistan is controlled or contested by the Taliban. It is therefore imperative to hold talks with them. However, the Taliban have to realise that delay in talks or taking rigid positions during the parleys would strengthen the IS which is fast spreading its tentacles inside in the country. This suits neither the Taliban nor Afghanistan nor the countries in the region. To reach a compromise both sides will have to display flexibility. The Afghan issue can however be resolved only by the Afghans themselves. It is for the two parties to decide what kind of arrangement suits the country best keeping in view the ground realities. To be an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned reconciliation process outsiders should act as no more than observers. Pakistan has to be in particular careful not to be seen as a partisan. It should strictly avoid giving unsolicited advice to either side. It has to be realised that not only the Afghan government but also the Taliban want an end to outside interference in their country.

The 5,5000 strong US forces in Afghanistan with only a training and direct action mission can do no more than prevent the security situation from deteriorating further. What Afghanistan needs to turn itself around is a united and strong government capable of taking firm decisions and implementing them on time.