Prospects of peace in Afghanistan
Central Asia Journal, Vol. 69, 2013, pp. 1-18
The stalemate in the Afghan war and the scheduled withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 necessitate political resolution of the Afghan conflict through reintegration and reconciliation of the forces of insurgency. It is a tall order. For while the US-led coalition’s motivations for peace may be quite obvious, they are relatively unclear in the case of Taliban-led insurgents. The security transition currently under way in Afghanistan, indeed, offers credible opportunities for a viable peace settlement in the war-torn country, but some crucial questions remain unanswered. For instance, what are the possible incentives and disincentives that may persuade or compel the Taliban towards political compromise before the end of 2014, when national security responsibility will fully pass on to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF)? What are the pre-requisites of a peace-making process that should last well beyond 2014? And how far can the recent international summitry process guarantee a long-term international commitment in Afghanistan—the absence of which after the end of anti-Soviet jihad in the 1980s had created the context for a violent Afghan conflict, along with equally, or even more, violent consequences for the region and the world? An attempt is made in the following pages to answer these questions without, of course, overlooking the peculiar intricacies of the Afghan conflict.

The scope of this article is mostly confined the challenge of peace making in Afghanistan, especially its preconditions and prospects, while some crucial issues of Afghan peace building are narrated briefly in the end. The discussion begins by mentioning the key motivations behind NATO’s military exit from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and recent moves by the Afghan Government and the Obama Administration to reconcile Taliban, as well as Taliban’s response to these moves. Subsequent discussion narrates the preconditions and prospects of peace making in Afghanistan, including the need for reassessing previous thinking on the Afghan conflict and recognising current signs of hope for its resolution. The article charts out a workable course for politically resolving the Afghan conflict, while incorporating concerns and interests of regional actors, and concludes by emphasising the value of long-term international engagement to stabilise Afghanistan.

Only excerpts of this article, published originally with the title "Preconditions and Prospects of Peace in Afghanistan," are available.