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

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

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