Averting a Civil War in Afghanistan (Page 3 of 3)

A Taliban prescription for a legal and governance system for Afghanistan also lacks clarity. Can the Taliban come to terms with some form of a republican system of government? Or is it insistent on having a hardline Islamic emirate akin to the one that existed in the 1990s? Does the Taliban view representative government as permissible or even legitimate? Can a parliament exist? What should its powers be? Will it have the capacity to legislate? Can women exercise the right to vote, let alone serve in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government? And what will Mullah Omar’s status be? Can the so-called commander of the faithful play second fiddle to an elected president or prime minister?

The Taliban has stated that it has a national reconciliation plan ready for Afghanistan. But up to this point, there is no indication that it has conducted an internal dialogue and achieved consensus. It’s not even clear whether it has the capacity and competency to produce such a coherent vision for the country. If and once direct talks with its Afghan counterparts begin, they will need to know the Taliban’s ‘red lines’ and its demands for changes to the present constitution, even if they are untenable.

An important forum in which these issues can be aired out indirectly is the conference of religious scholars proposed by the AHPC and Pakistani government in their joint statement. Neither the Taliban nor the participating religious scholars should have veto power over the future of Afghanistan. But this forum, should it take place, provides an opportunity to press the Taliban—and give its leadership the necessary cover—to make the necessary compromises on  representative government and women’s rights.

The Taliban cannot be the sole definer of Afghanistan’s future. But as part of a political settlement—which is so crucial for peace and stability in the country and region—the Taliban would undoubtedly have some say in how Afghanistan would be governed. To dilute the Taliban’s conservative influence, intra-Afghan peace talks must be broad-based with ample weight given to relatively progressive forces within the country, including women. And Afghan women—whether they’re part of civil society or parliament—must coalesce as a bloc and press for their fundamental rights.

Afghanistan’s greatest challenge is to avert a civil war by producing an amended governance framework that incorporates the Taliban but does not sacrifice the fundamental rights of Afghans, especially Afghan women. It is difficult to be optimistic about the prospects for a negotiated settlement with the Taliban. And any optimism that one may have will certainly dwindle in the months ahead if no progress is made while 2014 nears.

Arif Rafiq is an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute and president of Vizier Consulting, LLC, which provides strategic guidance on Middle East and South Asian political and security issues. He tweets at @ArifCRafiq.

April 26, 2013 at 18:15

Return of the Pushtun areas east of the Durand line to Afghanistan would lead to a stable state in that area. That should be the goal.

November 21, 2012 at 14:18

2,000 US soldiers killed over 11 years.  That’s hardly catastrophic.  Neither Russia nor China would potentially have sent arms or monetary aid to the Taliban because neither could afford it.  So is the USA lucky Chinese and Russian leadership is inept?  Yeah, I guess you got that right. 
Has the Chinese Communist Party cooperated with local populations in Tibet and Xinjiang?  Or have they invaded and attempted to subjugate?  The USA and India should be hailed for their efforts against Chinese subjugation of these areas.
China may, but Russia will never grow its GDP to surpass the USA, so that’s not even worth considering.  China spends more money on subjugating its own people through “internal security” anyway; I guess you can be proud of that. 
Actually, most of the American people and many Europeans are very proud of Obama.  Of course there are some loud voices that are unhappy, but that’s normal because they aren’t afraid of being shot in the face like they would be in other countries. 
The fact that the USA can move a 2,000 soldiers to Australia and a few ships scattered around the Western Pacific, and China will freak out and accuse the USA of containment demonstrates China’s sense of insecurity and lack of confidence in itself more than it shows a mean-old plan to drive the world to confrontation.  Oh, China please stop your hostility and unfriendly moves toward the Philippines, Vietnam and Japan; and Russia, stop your hostility toward the small country of Georgia. 
Ban Ki-Moon:  You should really start being very publicly critical of the Chinese Communist Party.  Did you hear they put a newly married man in jail for 8 years because of texting a joke about starting a Chinese Republican Party to his friends?  China is clearly behind all of the recent trouble and suffering in the South China Sea.  Give some dignity to the Chair, the UN, as a global institution shouldn’t be afraid of a Chinese hissy-fit. 

Abdul Latif
November 21, 2012 at 11:29

this article is full of mistakes and misleading the readers opinion. one of the mistakes is that writer named Amrullah Salih as leader of Nation Front of Afghansitan while he is not even senior member. leaders of NFA are Haji Mohammad Muhaqiq, General Rashid Dostum and Ahamd Zia Massoud. However Massoud has a very Symbolic role but he has appointed as spokesperson.  for me as Afghan reader it was full of bias and misleading opinion and it will damage the accredition of this website. if it continuous we can not trust to thediplomat.com anylonger

Leonard R.
November 21, 2012 at 08:48

When the US leaves the Talban will turn their guns on the Pakistani government. 
The Taliban are basically Pashtun nationalists. They don't merely want a Pashtun Afghanistan. They want their own nation, a Pashtunistan.  it would swallow the Durand Line and contain parts of both Afghsnistan and Pakistan.
The US should leave. Bin Laden is dead. There is nothing there to win.

November 21, 2012 at 08:23

Well I guess, they just need to keep on supporting the Northern Alliance and Iran just needs to keep on supporting Herat and its locales.
If this happens then the Taliban will never take over Afghanistan. Those supporters of the Taliban are ignorant savages in all the meaning of the word. The Taliban are savages plain and simple and should be erradicated.

US Checkmated In Afghanistan
November 20, 2012 at 17:43

Either way, the US is checkmated in Afghanistan.  2,000 US soldiers killed and they haven't pacified Afghanistan but in fact getting financially more broke with each passing day.  Obama was lucky China and Russia did not sent arms to the Talibans and other resistance fighters.  That would had really bled the NATO troops bone dry with casualties easily tripling.
Russia and China should really be hailed for their united efforts against the US.  If it doesn't learn how to co-operate, it will be checkmated every where they invade and attempt to subjugate.  When Russia and China's GDP outgrow the US, rest assure, they can easily outspend against US adventurism anywhere in the world.
So, stop your bl**dy hostility and unfriendly moves against China and Russia you stupid Obama and US.  Stop driving the world into a global confrontation, and the countries into a deeply polarized state.  Can someone constitutionally sack this Obama?  Never, in the history of the US, has the country been dragged lower esteem-wise than it is now, in the eyes of the world. 
Mr Ban Ki-Moon :  You should really start being very publicly critical of the Obama Administration.  Mr Kofi Adnan did a great job trying to promote peace in the world.  He was clearly aware the US Administration was behind almost all the trouble and sufferings in the world.  Kindly give some dignity to the Chair.  The UN, as a global institution should be bigger than the rogue US and its vassals.

Share your thoughts

Your Name
Your Email
required, but not published
Your Comment

Sign up for our weekly newsletter
The Diplomat Brief