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1 February 2012


The leaked NATO report examines the political outlook in Afghanistan, and what might happen after complete ISAF withdrawal from the country. It draws upon the expertise of NATO, which has been in Afghanistan for more than a decade.


The report includes a warning that two key events could happen after an ISAF withdrawal


1)      The collapse of the Karzai government


2)      The return of the Taliban to power


Quilliam believes that there are two factors that point to the potential accuracy of the NATO assessment:


1)      ISAF – to a certain extent – has failed to find the proper and correct partners in Afghanistan. This has wasted many man hours and large sums of money in an attempt to establish law and order and bring about stability to a country which has experienced non-stop war for the past three decades


2)      Relations between the United States and Pakistan have deteriorated significantly. This has led to mutual mistrust and dishonesty, a matter that has been exploited perfectly by negative forces keen on destabilising Afghanistan


Afghanistan is, and will remain, at the heart of the international community’s efforts to counter terrorism.


Therefore, Quilliam would like to identify the main challenges to the international community regarding the Afghan mission.


·         Afghanistan will remain unstable and insecure for the near future, regardless of who is in power. Preventing the outbreak of another long war should be the top priority


·         The Afghan conflict has gone beyond its national borders, and has both regional and global reach. The International Community has a stake in preserving the peace


·         There is a credible threat that terrorism and extremism might spread through Central and South Asia from Afghanistan. This will directly concern  India, China and Russia


·         Security will come from stability, which will come by building a nation-wide governing consensus. Such a consensus can only be a product of civil society, rather than imposed by the military. Funds would be well spent on civil-society surges and consensus building.


·         Anti-corruption measures, reconstruction drives, transparency initiatives, improving social conditions and eradicating poverty will be crucial in depriving the Taliban of their support base. Karzai may not be the best man to lead this work.


·         Containing the Taliban through a two-track engagement, a war and peace strategy, must be explored more openly and debated publicly.


The extent to which the international community can join together to meet these challenges remains a matter to be seen.