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Kabul conference highlights Pakistan's role

07-22-2010 11:08 BJT

ISLAMABAD, July 21 (Xinhua) -- The international conference in Kabul has backed Afghan President Hamid Karzai's efforts of reconciliation with Taliban. Representatives of almost every country in their speeches tried to announce the end of its engagement in Afghanistan. This is now a test case for the Afghan security forces as how to deal with the law and order in 2014, the deadline set by President Karzai to hand over security to Afghan forces.

Some 150,000 US-led NATO troops have fought their enemy -- the Taliban and remnants of al-Qaeda in nearly nine years, but the fast growing deaths of foreign troops raised concerns over how foreign troops will deal with insurgents.

June was the deadliest month for foreign forces in Afghanistan with 102 deaths including 60 of Americans. Over 50 NATO troops have died this month. Taliban failed to disrupt the Kabul Conference, but their rockets fired at Kabul international airport forced diversion of the plane of the UN Secretary General to the U. S-controlled Bagram airbase north of Kabul. The rocket attack to some extent highlighted Taliban ability that they can attract the world attention.

The conference highlighted the role of Pakistan in any possible political reconciliation and reintegration process as it is strongly believed that Islamabad still has influence on the Afghan Taliban. The NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen also said in Islamabad on Wednesday that Pakistan can play important role in Afghanistan's political reconciliation. Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was quick to add that Islamabad will play role in political reconciliation after the Afghan government formally makes a request for such a role.

When Pakistan announced this January to reach out Afghan Taliban, several Afghan experts and foreign media opined that Islamabad can play a role as it has influence on Afghan Taliban. Pakistan is believed to have strong contacts with Haqqani network, which is based in North Waziristan tribal region and led by Siraj- ud-Haqqani,the son of former Taliban Minister Jalaluddin Haqqani.

No delegate opposed talks with Taliban in the Kabul conference as NATO member countries are anxious to quit Afghanistan as they have not succeeded in defeating their enemy despite spending some 40 billion US dollars and loosing hundreds of soldiers.

After President Obama's announcement to start withdrawal of forces in July 2011, several other voices emerged for political reconciliation and the Kabul conference endorsed those voices.

Late last month, head of the British army Gen Sir David Richards surprised the world when he suggested politicians and military chiefs to talk to members of the Taliban sooner rather than later. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Australian Defence Minister have also said they could start withdrawal of troops in 2011.

These are among NATO's important countries and the others will follow them to leave Afghanistan. NATO is confident to train the Afghan forces to take responsibility in 2014, but Afghan experts say it may be very difficult for the Afghan forces to deal with the Taliban and that is why the notion of reconciliation is gaining momentum. Pakistan would play a key role in this process. The Afghan President, on a number of occasions, sought Islamabad's help to reach out to Taliban.

Many believed that without the help of Pakistan it would be impossible to oust Taliban and it would also be difficult to reconcile with Taliban. Pakistan's contacts with Afghan Taliban are not a secret. Some local security officials privately defended such contacts as a must as Islamabad needs influence in the neighboring country.

Editor:Jin Lin |Source: Xinhua

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