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501 words - June 28, 2013 | © DiploNews, all rights reserved.
On June 18 was announced Milestone 2013, a long-anticipated development since the 2010 Lisbon NATO Summit. It consisted of the Afghan government and armed forces taking the lead for security throughout their country towards full transition scheduled for December 2014. With continuing training assistance and advice from NATO/ISAF, the Afghans will prepare the presidential elections set for April 5, 2014. As the situation on the diplomatic and political levels, mainly between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his US counterpart Barack Obama, has got more complicated, there have been growing concerns over US-Afghan Taliban negotiations which are about to start while Afghanistan continues to suffer from deadly attacks.
The least one can say it that the bilateral relations between the United States and Afghanistan have become more sensitive this year, principally at the Presidential level. The opening of an Afghan Taliban political office in Doha, Qatar with the active support of President Obama led to a serious "confusion" about the "official denomination" given to that Taliban's representation abroad. Beyond Afghanistan, there could be some "moral" interrogation too about giving the Taliban a window of opportunity for a comeback to Afghanistan's political scene while NATO troops and their Afghan partners are still fighting, and dying, in Afghanistan. Yes it is realpolitik, but according to DiploNews this could also be sending a contradictory message to both NATO troops and allies that in the end, after a decade of fighting, the Taliban managed to survive – which is true indeed – despite the unprecedented use of force by NATO and eventually became capable of staying united enough to send representatives in Doha.
At President Karzai's office and within the Indian government, there is growing fear that this Qatar-based initiative could possibly put the Taliban back on a long-term favorable track towards re-gaining political prominence, if not leadership according to New Delhi's "worst case scenario", in Afghanistan. "We've not been as enthusiastic or willing (as Pakistan) to get into any kind of a conversation with the Taliban, good or bad," External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said in January, and "the reconciliation process should not seek to create equivalence between an internationally recognized Government of Afghanistan and insurgent groups, confer legitimacy to insurgent groups or convey the impression of two competing state authorities for Afghanistan, which could undermine the legitimate Afghan State," official Spokesperson Shri Syed Akbaruddin explained on June 21.
Polls regularly showed that most of the Afghans want reconciliation while they worry about a political role of the Taliban in the future, but the Taliban still constitute a force that is strong enough to play this kind of role, either through political ways or through the use of force as they've been doing since Operation Enduring Freedom toppled them. Though needed and appropriate, the reconciliation process has proved rather divisive so far and if the United States thinks deciding Afghanistan's future in Qatar is relevant, it is very unlikely the Afghan people thinks so.
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