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Haidari Speaks at the U.S. National Defense Intelligence College

Political Counselor M. Ashraf Haidari gave a lecture on “Securing Afghanistan: Challenges and Opportunities” to a group of international intelligence fellows, including senior and junior intelligence officers of sixteen countries from different regions of the world at the U.S. Defense Intelligence Analysis Center on November 9, 2009 in Washington DC. The theme of this year’s Fellows Program focused on “Intelligence Support to Combating Terrorism,” which Haidari discussed in the context of international stabilization and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.

Haidari noted that the best way to understand the current security situation in Afghanistan is to put it into context, both from a perspective of Afghanistan’s recent history before the fall of the Taliban and the successes or failures of international peace-building over the past eight years. He said that deteriorating security and weak governance in Afghanistan had been cumulative, because of a lack of international security and reconstruction aid resources to address the country’s protracted problems from the very beginning. “Until just last year, Afghanistan was the recipient of the least international security and development aid per capita, compared to all other recent post-conflict countries—including Bosnia, Cambodia, East Timor, Iraq, and others…” said Haidari.

He added that the Iraq war effectively shortchanged the urgent priority of restoring state institutions in Afghanistan. “Let’s remember that the Bonn Agreement only gave Afghanistan a Government on the paper, not the actual state capacity that any country needs to run its basic domestic affairs,” he noted. He said that the international community continues to lack a comprehensive state-building strategy for Afghanistan where they have spent tax payers’ monies through NGOs and contractors related to the donor countries. “That is why our state institutions are either too weak or completely absent in various parts of Afghanistan where the Taliban have increasingly regained influence and power,” Haidari noted.

Moreover, Haidari stressed the regional dimension of insecurity in Afghanistan, and stressed that so long as Pakistan’s army and intelligence institutions view instability in Afghanistan to favor their strategic thinking, it would be almost impossible to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the region. “Pakistan must give up on its dual policy of fighting extremism on its soil, while promoting and fueling it in Afghanistan,” which Haidari said was eventually going to pose a serious threat to peace and stability in Pakistan itself.

Moving forward in Afghanistan, Haidari said, requires a firm recommitment to a strategic partnership with the post-election Government of Afghanistan. “There is no choice but to win in Afghanistan, because failing in our country will not only give the Taliban a strategic victory and thus embolden them to take on another mission but also put under serious question the very credibility of NATO as a unified and responsible collective security institution in the post-Cold War era where security threats no longer come from states but from non-state transnational actors,” Haidari said.

Haidari concluded his lecture by discussing three key opportunities for the international community to capitalize on in order to secure Afghanistan. These, he said, included the overwhelming popular support for international presence in Afghanistan, the lessons learned so far to build upon to in order to avoid future mistakes, as well as a consolidation of the hitherto achievements, which Haidari discussed in great details. “We have a very clear mission in Afghanistan with good strategies—including General McChrystal’s recent assessment—to win the peace in the country, with overwhelming Afghan support. But our nation-partners must commit the will needed to succeed in this joint endeavor for global peace and security.” Haidari concluded.


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