News / Asia

    Experts Disagree Over Prospects for Peace Talks in Afghanistan

    Afghans walk pass the derbies at the site of a bomb explosion in Laghman province east of Kabul, Afghanistanm, June 11, 2011.
    Afghans walk pass the derbies at the site of a bomb explosion in Laghman province east of Kabul, Afghanistanm, June 11, 2011.
    Meredith Buel

    Some South Asian analysts say momentum is building towards a political process designed to lead to negotiations to pursue a peace settlement in Afghanistan.  But other experts are warning it could take years before reconciliation between the warring forces could occur.

    U.S. Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Vikram Singh says at some point there has to be a political resolution to the Afghan conflict.

    Singh says State Department officials believe the surge of U.S. troops in Afghanistan has helped set the stage for a political process that is more hopeful now than at any time in the pas “Does that mean we think peace is on the horizon, that there is going to be the Taliban, President [Hamid] Karzai and the Pakistanis and we all sit down and we will pretty quickly work this out and it will be great and next year this time we will all be celebrating?  No.  We do not think this is going to be easy," he said.

    News reports say officials from the Obama administration have engaged in exploratory talks with representatives of the Taliban, although such discussions are said to be preliminary.

    U.S. officials say any settlement must result in an end to violence by the Taliban, an agreement by insurgents to conform to the Afghan constitution and respect for the rights of women and the rule of law.

    Vikram Singh says the international community has reached what he calls a critical time in the overall effort to bring stability to Afghanistan. “What we are doing is in support of a political process, that we are open to a political process.  I wish I could tell you that [the] political process was underway.  It is not yet, but it is tangible, it is close, it needs a lot of critical thinking," he said.

    News reports say U.S. officials believe the death of Osama bin Laden last month in Pakistan could facilitate progress in talks with the Taliban.

    Hamish Nixon coordinates a research project on the possibilities of a peace process in Afghanistan at the U.S. Institute of Peace.  “U.S. policy is shifting incrementally towards a situation which accepts not only the necessity, but the necessity of mapping out in more detail the kind of process which would likely be successful," he said.

    Center for a New American Security analyst Andrew Exum served on active duty in the U.S. Army in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He says allied commanders in Afghanistan do not believe there is likely to be any peace agreement with the Taliban in the near future.

    “The U.S. military, at least, and the NATO ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) command looks at reconciliation, meaning an enforceable accord, as being quite far away.  And therefore it has put a low priority on reconciliation, as far as I can see it, and more on the reality I think it sees, 'We are going to be fighting a persistent insurgency in Afghanistan for some time now, beyond 2014," he said.

    U.S. President Barack Obama and NATO have set 2014 as the date to end a withdrawal of combat troops from Afghanistan and turn over responsibility for security to Afghan forces.

    Earlier attempts to open talks with the Taliban failed when an alleged insurgent leader, secretly flown to Kabul from Pakistan, turned out to be an imposter.

    Former Afghan interior minister Ali Jalali says it is difficult to identify Taliban leaders who may be willing to negotiate. “Nobody knows so far who is in charge, who is speaking for the Taliban," he said. "Who are the legitimate interlocutors?”

    Carnegie Endowment for International Peace senior associate Ashley Tellis specializes in South Asia affairs.  Tellis says the only incentive the insurgents have to negotiate would be if there is a fundamental change in the balance of power that threatens their goal of toppling the current Afghan government.

    “I think at the moment there has been progress made in terms of weakening their capacities, but it has not been sufficient and there is no assurance that it will be enduring.  So even if one can bring them to the table I think there is simply no deal to be had right now," she said.

    Analysts say any peace talks that could lead to a settlement of the Afghan conflict must include Pakistan, where many Taliban leaders are believed to be hiding.

    Analyst Moeed Yusuf is the South Asia advisor at the U.S. Institute of Peace. “What is Pakistan trying to do?  I think a clear message over and over, 'Start reconciliation now.'  If you do it now we have the best chance of bringing these people to the table.  If you delay it things will actually get out of control," he said.

    The United States, Pakistan and Afghanistan have begun high-level trilateral talks to discuss the process of reconciliation.

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    How Diversity Has Changed America

    Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in these four states

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.