Afghan quagmire


Afghan President Hamid Karzai was awarded a second five year term of office on Monday after his only political rival Dr Abdullah Abdullah withdrew from the run off elections scheduled only a few days later. The former foreign minister Abdullah exited the political process on the plea that the government had not acceded to his demand for replacement of the ‘tainted’ election chief, but in reality, he realised he had little chance of emerging victorious. Karzai was accused of rigging the first round of elections, but for the people of Afghanistan, whether it is Karzai or Abdullah in power would hardly make a difference in terms of the much needed political stability. The fact of the matter is that the western inspired attempts to impose democracy have proved futile and the resolution of the conflict has become even more remote.

After bloodying its hands in the war for eight long years, Washington has realised that it is nowhere near winning it and the only honourable way out of the quagmire is to allow the Afghans to manage their own affairs. Afghanistan has historically abhorred domination by foreign powers and opposed them tooth and nail like they fought the Soviets and now the US-led NATO forces. Clearly the effort of the western powers to impose their writ over Afghanistan has failed and the political and social conditions are deteriorating from bad to worse and there appears to be no signs of hope in sight.    

US President Barack Obama is feeling the heat of ‘body bags’ and the demand to scale down the force levels in Afghanistan, but geo-political compulsions may not allow him to do so, at least in the near future.It will be interesting to see whether he goes back on his decision to upscale the US forces in Afghanistan.  Having derided and belittled Karzai in the run up to the elections in the hope of getting him out of the scene, the Americans are now left with no option but to do business with him, however reluctantly. It is reported that the US President’s Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke is “shooting to get into a situation where negotiations” between factions in Afghanistan will lead to a political settlement. But having successfully fought the American attempts to dislodge him, Karzai will make sure that he has a decisive say in the terms and timing of any such settlement.

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