News / Asia

Task Force Calls for Immediate Afghan Talks

Former UN envoy and advisor Lakhdar Brahimi (File Photo)
Former UN envoy and advisor Lakhdar Brahimi (File Photo)

A new study by a non-governmental task force concludes there is a growing sense of stalemate in Afghanistan that opens the way for a political settlement in the country.

The task force, created by the Washington-based Century Foundation, says neither side in the Afghan conflict can win militarily and moves toward a political settlement should start now.

Related video report by Robert Raffaele


The task force, made up of a wide range of scholars and former international diplomats, says public support in the West for the war in Afghanistan is declining, the Afghan public is increasingly weary of the continuing conflict, and even the Taliban is under growing pressure to pursue a negotiating track.

In a telephone conference call, task force co-chair Lakhdar Brahimi, a former U.N. Special Envoy to Afghanistan, said none of the Taliban should be barred from such a process if they want to participate.

"The Taliban, as I said, are part of the political scenery in Afghanistan," Brahimi said. "We believe that the Taliban, all the Taliban, are potentially candidates for this reconciliation process."

Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington (File Photo)
Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington (File Photo)

Fellow co-chair Thomas Pickering, a former U.S. undersecretary of state, said that could even include the top echelons of the Taliban.

"Who speaks for the Taliban?  It is not, as we all know, a universally tightly bound organization where it is easy to find a single speaker, although my sense is that on questions theological and maybe political, Mullah Omar and perhaps the association with the so-called Quetta Shura provides an initial base for discussions," said Pickering.

But many of the hardline Taliban have voiced opposition to a political settlement and may choose not to participate in negotiations.

US General David Petraeus
US General David Petraeus

The U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, said recently the momentum of the Taliban has been halted.  Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the United States is well-positioned to begin an initial drawdown of troops in July, when, according to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Afghan forces will take over security responsibilities in several areas of the country.  

The United States is scheduled to withdraw most of its combat troops by 2014, conditions permitting.

Task-force member Lawrence Korb, a former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, said the last year’s U.S. troop surge has halted Taliban momentum. But he added that it makes no sense to wait until 2014 to get negotiations going.

"I think that we have reversed the momentum of the Talban, but that it is important to begin the negotiations now," said Korb. "And, as the report said, the longer we wait, it is not going to get better.  And I think the optimal time will be this summer, when we start our withdrawal because that will give the Taliban at least some face-saving way out where they can say, well, they were not doing this because of the "[troop] surge. And as we begin to withdraw, this also sends a signal that we are not occupiers and we are not there forever."

The task force says the potentially most promising first step would be the appointment of an internationally designated facilitator who could wade through the complex  issues without undermining the various parties' negotiating positions.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More