The audacity of Afghan peace hopes
M. K. Bhadrakumar, The Hindu, Februaty 4, 2010
The London conference on the Afghan problem certainly gives grounds for optimism.
Last Thursday the region took a ride in the raft of optimism to peace. The London conference on the Afghan problem certainly gives grounds for optimism. From the Indian perspective, however, what matters most is to be able to behold just in time that, as the Old Testament says, “there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand.” The little cloud is destined to rise higher and higher and become larger and larger with astonishing celerity and will burst in a deluge of rain on the parched earth. And like Elijah hastening Ahab home, India needs to head for the chariot and “get thee down that the rain stop thee not.” For, once the river Kishon gets swollen from the deep layer of dust in the arid plain being turned into thick mud that impedes the wheels, it becomes impassable.
The fact of the matter is that the decisions of the London conference not only constitute a 5-year road map for conflict resolution in Afghanistan but are destined to impact on regional security and stability for a long time to come. The decisions run on four different but inter-connected templates. First and foremost, what seemed to some a heretic idea until recently has come to habitate the centerpiece of the political agenda, namely, that the war needs to be brought to an end by “reintegrating” and “reconciling” the Taliban in the Afghan national mainstream. Second, whatever residual war effort remains will focus on persuading or coercing the Taliban to negotiate. Third, the so-called “Afghanisation” process will be speeded up so that by July next year the drawdown of American forces in Afghanistan can commence. Fourth, enduring peace in the Hindu Kush can be attained only in a regional environment in which Afghanistan’s neighbours cooperate by setting aside their competing rivalries and by resolving their outstanding disputes.
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