National Security

Reconciliation & Afghanistan

Rana Athar Javed Chief Editor

Every age has its compulsions and follies, perhaps the folly of the twenty-first century could be identified as an overstretched ambition to change the world, without even gathering a fair deal of details and understanding it first. The lack of readiness to enter into a dialogue with those who are different and overprotected of their national and local heritage is considered a major risk and source of conflict. The peace with Taliban is now considered as the “only way out” of foreign domination and reconciliation within contesting socio-religious forces. This objective in itself suggests that the opinion of a major part of population is either ignored or being selectively utilized.

The US and NATO on the other hand is convinced that the “good, bad and ugly” cannot co-exist. Hence, first we have to filter all those socio-political forces which support the current format of governance, and only then a process of reconciliation can commence. The problem with this argument is that in a complex battle-space such as Afghanistan expanding war-dimensions will strengthen asymmetrical operational capabilities of Taliban and al-Qaeda, because lack of sharing intelligence, and slim technical and material resources that Pakistan possess cannot match high standard of the US and NATO forces, and thereby can never meet the extraordinary demands of creating stability in Afghanistan, and guarding its own borders against internal and external enemies.

The complexity surrounding this misperception is tactically missing out the wider picture, and the long-term strategic disadvantages that would emerge in the post-2014 US/NATO withdrawal. This reflection is cemented by the argument that Afghanistan’s numerous stabilization strategies and plans have suffered deep flaws. Therefore, only “Afghan-led-Afghan-owned” reconciliation process can end violence. To address the challenges of instability it facing, Afghanistan will need a coherent and focused plan from the United States, NATO and other regional partners. This characterizes, in particular that the states joined in NATO must remain committed to reconstruct social and political institutions there. Pressurizing only Pakistan to “Do More” will not bring the desired results of stabilizing the war-torn Afghanistan. The issues of common security can be resolved through a revised and a more effective way to reconcile with Taliban and.

The most important aspect of this strategy is based on two interconnected polices: negotiating reconciliation in the greater interest of stability, and building a long-term “Strategic Partnership” between Pakistan and Afghanistan. At the core of this security strategy is a focus on centers of gravity, and a clear emphasize on long-term local participation in program designing and implementation of local socioeconomic agenda. This new vision will not only require huge material resources, but a “real plan” to redress the issue of trust within among local tribal and religious forces in Afghanistan, which is increasingly in short supply. In the coming decade, the US and NATO need to provide economic opportunities to both Pakistan and Afghanistan, and it seems to be the only solution to achieve the shared strategic goals. Recently, Pakistan’s decision to release “a number of” imprisoned Taliban to encourage dialogue between the insurgents and the Afghan government is one of the best examples of comprehending changing regional requirements of peace. Also, Pakistan’s current initiative is in stark contrast to previously aborted efforts to incorporate every element of peace – attempts to negotiate reconciliation with the Taliban were being hindered after Washington refused to release five prisoners from Guantanamo Bay in March 2012.  According to the joint statement, Kabul and Islamabad have appealed to the Taliban and other militant groups to sever all ties with Al Qaeda and participate in this indigenous peace & reconciliation process.

One clear certainty at this point is that if sincere efforts to reconcile with Taliban sustained in the post-2014, the social impact of radicalization and terrorism will significantly be reduced. The character of this claim is directly related to the quality of solution and application of Afghan-led solution to resolve the issues of radicalization and terrorism. It is then a fair assessment that at a time when there is an increasing sense of paranoia regarding the potential radicals and terrorists, there is a powerful need for balanced role of Afghan leadership because ensuring the credibility of its future role is tremendously important for the future Afghan generations., especially for those who are victims of terrorism and foreign military domination.

Uncertainty also persists about the role of modern social forces in Afghanistan. The US and NATO countries too have failed to contain the exaggerated reaction to the regular and mandatory Islamic practices. The new wave of anti-Islamism has seriously gripped the young Muslims, and thus is crafting a generation, which is trapped in a crisis of “mistrust” about the positive role of the Western nations in reconstructing Afghanistan. The process of racial profiling, for example raise serious questions about the future immigration policy of the US and other Western nations, which in turn has created further mistrust between the native and the migrant communities, especially from Afghanistan.


From the perspective of journalists and the media, sections of Afghan press, in part at least, send confusing political messages against the positive reconciliation process. Censoring news, for example about terrorism, the journalists argue, infringe on the public’s right to know, potentially depriving the public information needed to assess and react to events and trends. Two important reflections can be determined from this argument. The first aspect is related to the fact that reporting idea and encouraging discussion about different ways to reconcile would only contribute to the stability process in Afghanistan. The second reflection indicates that by implicitly or explicitly advocating the foreign domination would lead to media manipulation of real social issue that Afghans are facing since 9/11. Thus, comprehending the internal reconciliation process within Afghanistan is the only solution to stabilize Afghanistan.

By Rana Athar Javed