Post 2014 Afghanistan

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Afghan endgame uncertainties
October 10, 2012

There is merit in Pakistan’s urgings that withdrawal of troops to be in sync with develo‐ pments on political front.

The writer was Pakistan’s ambassador to the EU from 2002-2004 and to the US in 1999

President Asif Ali Zardari’s meetings with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session were claimed to have injected greater clarity to the US ‘endgame’ plans for Afghanistan. If so, there is little evidence of this. Conscious of the need not to draw the electorate’s attention to the “good war turned bad”, President Barack Obama made only a passing reference to Afghanistan in his nomination speech, mentioning that “in 2014, our longest war will be over”. Mitt Romney ignored this issue. Senior US Administration officials, however, insist that they remain committed to pursuing “peace and reconciliation”, irrespective of campaign pressures. The reality, however, is that exploratory talks between the US and the Taliban, suspended earlier this year, have not yet resumed. Moreover, is unlikely 1 of 2 10/10/2012 09:49 Print web pages, create PDFs

to help, as is evident from the Taliban’s description of this action as “inhuman and criminal” by a “deceitful America”. Another element of uncertainty is President Karzai’s future. While he is barred by the Constitution from seeking a third term, he wants to have a say in who succeeds him. Recent sharp increase in ‘ has added a note of urgency and uncertainty, especially with regard to the army’s unity, coherence and discipline. While Defence Secretary Leon Panetta dismissed it as the “last gasp” of the Taliban;...
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