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Building Peace in Afghanistan: The Way Forward

Political Counselor M. Ashraf Haidari spoke with American University Washington Semester students from across the United States on April 24. In a lecture entitled “Building Peace in Afghanistan: the Way Forward,” he focused on the elements of success in peace-building efforts. "If there is one post-conflict international intervention that should succeed, it is Afghanistan," he said.

“First of all, we clearly know why the international community is in Afghanistan. They are there because of the tragic events of 9/11, events that could have been prevented had Afghanistan not been neglected by the international community in the past. The 9/11 terrorist events demonstrated to all of us that our collective security is interdependent in the globalization age. Security in Afghanistan matters to the US national security interests and vice versa,” Haidari said. He added that besides international consensus upheld by the United Nations Charter and Security Council Resolutions to build peace in Afghanistan, “we have the strategic support of the Afghan people on our side. Recent studies show that the Afghan people are even more optimistic about the success of international efforts in Afghanistan than the academics and some policymakers. This should not go unnoticed and should be capitalized on by delivering on the peace dividend promised to the Afghan people six years ago.”

 

Haidari outlined the significant state-building goals of the last six years. "Afghanistan was a least developed nation even before the Soviet invasion, and where the process of modern state-building effectively began in the second half of the 20th century,” Haidari said. However, he noted that the post-9/11 achievements in Afghanistan required ongoing consolidation. “We have a democratically elected president and a democratically elected parliament. For them to deliver on the ideals of democracy increasingly demanded by the Afghan people in return for their buy in, our state institutions need to be strengthened and provided with the resources to deliver basic services to the people.”

Explaining the key sources of instability in Afghanistan, Haidari said that “the way forward depends on a number of things. The cross-border insurgency in Afghanistan should be fought and stopped at its source that lies across the border in Pakistan. The Taliban’s command and control are based in major Pakistani border cities and districts, in the greater NWFP and Baluchistan border region. While they’re taken down on the Pakistani side, the international community must implement a balanced clear-hold-build strategy on the Afghan side of the border. Afghan and international security forces must not only fight and clear the south and east of the Taliban terrorists but also establish and strengthen the presence of the government institutions accompanied by short- and long-term reconstruction assistance to the people.”

He pointed out transnational drug trafficking as another major source of instability that together with weak state institutions and cross-border insurgency was undermining the whole international peace-building effort in Afghanistan. “Unless our efforts to strengthen governance and the rule of law in Afghanistan are bolstered by our partners, unless the command and control of the Taliban are dismantled in Pakistan, and unless we regionally and internationally fight drugs, these three increasingly integrated challenges could undo our achievements of the past six year,” Haidari warned. However, he welcomed increased attention to these challenges from the United States and Afghanistan’s other allies. “I am very optimistic that with the continued support of the United States and the rest of the international community, we will overcome these challenges in the foreseeable future and hopefully secure the future of Afghanistan for its people and for international peace and security,” Haidari concluded.

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