Is the Istanbul Conference going to be an Agenda setting exercise?

Oct 25, 2011

The fate of the US-sponsored November 2 Istanbul Conference on Afghanistan may end up being an agenda setting exercise for Bonn Conference, scheduled for December 5 since none of major Afghan resistance groups including Taliban and Haqqani Netwrok would participate.“If the major resistance Afghan groups are being kept out by the US, the Istanbul conference will bear no fruit,” diplomatic sources told a private newspaper. Some people believe, it is because of the US antagonism towards Afghan Taliban and other groups resisting the US invasion of the country. They were of the considered view that until and unless these resistance groups were deeply engaged in the Afghan owned and Afghan-led peace and reconciliation, violence in the war torn country would not stop.

“The carrot and stick policy of the US with these groups would not help resolve the political the decades-long conflict,” a defence analyst, who has been deeply involved in Afghan Jihad, maintained requesting not to be named. He noted that the US administration was not realising the fact that military option was no solution to this conflict, and establishment of lasting peace would remain a distant dream as long as the US keeps the resistance groups be that Gulbadin Hekmatyar, Taliban or Haqqani Netwrok at the distance.The sources questioned the US triviality towards political reconciliation in Afghanistan, the fundamental approach to resolve the conflict and that could not be done without ensuring due role for Afghan Taliban in country’s future political setting.

“As long as these elements are kept out of the loop, the prospects of any of the US sponsored international conferences seeking peace and stability in Afghanistan would remain remote”, sources said.On the role of Pakistan in Afghan driven reconciliation process, the sources believed it could be to a certain level and like the US it has no leverage to convince them to accept any solution. They believed that the US would have to adopt a clear political strategy to engage the Afghan resistance groups in order to bring the long drawn conflict to an end.
They rather castigated the lake of seriousness on the part of the US, saying there was no follow-up efforts either on political, military and diplomatic levels to engage Pakistan and Afghanistan to finalise an action plan based on the decisions taken during the visit of US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“There is total silence since all over since her visit to Pakistan,” the sources said, adding it would adversely impact the outcome of the Istanbul conference.However the spokesperson of the US Embassy in Pakistan, Mark Stroh, while dismissing these notions told TheNation that three of the governments the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan would be doing a lot of work hard soon ahead of the Istanbul conference.“The US embassies in Pakistan and Afghanistan are engaged with ministries of foreign affairs of these countries to finalise the workings plans without further delay as stated by the Secretary of State Hilary Clinton during her visits to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

( The Nation)

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