Time to make political settlement of Afghan war top priority

Tuesday, 13 March 2018 03:25 Written by  Heart of Asia Read 204 times

The American war in Afghanistan, the longest in US history, reached its 6,000th day on Monday. According to unconfirmed statistics, the war has claimed approximately 111,000 lives from 2001 to 2016, mostly Afghans, and continues to claim more on daily basis as it is only Afghans on both sides fighting each other on the battlefields. Though it is America’s longest foreign war, its troops are not suffering virtually any casualties.
In addition to other factors, emphasis on military settlement of the Afghan conflict is a major reason for the continuation of war and the very high casualties. Although the United States had concluded after 2006 that it was impossible to achieve military victory in Afghanistan, it has not yet given preference to a negotiated settlement. Richard C. Holbrooke, the Obama administration’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, acknowledged in 2009 that it was impossible to win Afghan war militarily. Yet in 2018, the United States is pursuing to drag the Taliban to the negotiating table through the use of force and military victory on the battlefields. Meanwhile, the Taliban are more confident than Americans that they can achieve more through war than peace.
The persistence of both sides on war has so far made it impossible to reach peace, something which claims the lives of only Afghans on both sides, no matter which side they belong to. Some circles often justify the continuity of the war under the pretext that Afghans cannot tolerate losing the achievements of almost last two decades, while it is indeed war not peace that threatens and undermines the gains. If the continuation of war leads to the fall of the government, Afghans will once again witness the dark days of civil war, a scenario no one, except certain circles who have vested interests in war, favors to experience again.
There is no doubt that Afghan people have made a lot of gains following the ouster of Taliban regime, their sacrifices that should result in peace than an unending war should also not be ignored. It is not rational to make or pave the way for more sacrifices pretending to recognize previous sacrifices. Thus, peace negotiations should be chased till an agreement is reached. The negotiated settlement of the war should become a priority, and Afghan people and government should not let barriers to peace be used as a justification to protract the war. Afghan war is complex, and therefore requires “strategic patience” to end peacefully.

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