Wednesday 2 March 2011

UK Select ctte calls for negotiations to end Afghan war

In a report that will not be welcomed in Downing Street, the UK Foreign Affairs Committee fourth report on Afghanistan, The UK's foreign policy approach to Afghanistan and Pakistan, says that despite the significant resources that have been invested in Afghanistan, the UK has not yet achieved its stated goals.
It adds that the core foreign policy justification for the UK's continued presence in Afghanistan -  namely that it is necessary in the interests of UK national security - may have been achieved some time ago, given the apparently limited strength of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. "Although the Government disputes this," says the report, "we are seriously concerned that this fundamentally important assessment appears to be based on intelligence that has not been subject to parliamentary scrutiny."
The report adds that "the security rationale behind the UK Government's decision to announce the 2015 deadline for the unconditional withdrawal of UK combat forces remains unclear and there are a number of potential risks inherent in such an approach."
It says that military pressure will not be sufficient to bring security and stability to Afghanistan and says that the US as the dominant power should support political reconciliation in Afghanistan: "Given that the pre-requisites for a successful military campaign are currently lacking, we conclude that the US should not delay its significant involvement in talks with the Taliban leadership because, without the US's support in this respect, there can be no longer-term peace in Afghanistan. As a key ally, the UK has an important role to play in encouraging the US to adopt a more pro-active approach in this respect."
A negotiated political solution will have to involve a power-sharing agreement. However, the committee concludes, at present the conditions for a political settlement do not exist, "not least because the international community's approach is incoherent, Afghan leadership is not sufficient, the US approach is overly focused on reintegration at the expense of reconciliation and, in the resulting political vacuum, regional powers and Pakistan in particular, are forging ahead with their own agendas on reconciliation, not necessarily in the interests of Afghanistan or the wider region."

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