Despite a recent spike in deadly Taliban attacks in Afghanistan, authorities there are confident the insurgent violence is unlikely to disrupt next April’s presidential election or pose a major security challenge to Afghan forces past 2014, when NATO will have ended its military mission in the country.
The past week has witnessed a dramatic rise in Taliban attacks in several Afghan provinces that killed more than 100 people. Interior ministry officials in Kabul say most of the victims were civilians.
On Sunday, President Hamid Karzai appointed Kabul’s ambassador to neighboring Pakistan, Umer Daudzai, as acting interior minister.
Speaking to VOA just days before assuming his new responsibilities, Ambassador Daudzai dismissed concerns Afghan forces will be unable to manage national security after most NATO forces leave the country by end of next year.
“The vacuum they create by drawing down will be met by the Afghan forces and the Afghan forces are tuned into that. They have been trained, coached, equipped for that purpose. We do not buy into those worries that with NATO forces may leave and the country may go back into chaos. No, there is no will to do that and there is no reason to think like that,” said Daudzai.
He said some foreign forces will remain in the country after 2014 to assist and advise the Afghan security forces.
Daudzai rejected worries the absence of a peace process between the Afghan government and the Taliban could undermine the April presidential election.
He added efforts are underway to engage the rebels in a political reconciliation process.
“If there is progress on the negotiations and they come forward to negotiating table and we have a negotiating settlement, that’s great. If not, I do not think they have that much power to prevent elections. I think elections will take place because it is the will of the Afghan people.”
Daudzai also insisted it is not possible for an armed group to undo the progress Afghanistan has made in the past decade in areas such as security, education, political and legal reforms, civil society, and women’s rights.
Negotiating with the Taliban
Under a U.S. peace plan, the Taliban was allowed to open a political office in Qatar to engage in peace talks with American and Afghan negotiators.
But President Karzai pulled out of the process to protest direct talks between the United States and the Taliban before any talks with his representatives. He visited Pakistan last week hoping leaders there could use their influence with the Taliban to bring them to the table with Afghan negotiators.
Karzai apparently returned to Kabul without reporting progress in his mission.
Speaking to reporters Sunday in Kabul, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Janan Mosazai urged Pakistan to deliver on commitments it made in talks with the Afghan president.
“I am not going to give you the details of those specific decisions, but our expectation is that the government of Pakistan will take specific and concrete steps to implement the decisions that were reached with the Afghan government during President Karzai’s visit to Islamabad," said Mosazai.
Pakistani officials say Islamabad has assured the Afghan leadership it will do its best to promote the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. But they are not sure whether Taliban leaders can be persuaded to negotiate peace with President Karzai’s team.
The insurgent group has long rejected the Afghan leader as an “American puppet.”