Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The situation in Afghanistan

A forum with United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) for Afghanistan Tom Koenigs was held at the United States Institute of Peace on Wednesday. Ambassador Koenigs has served as the U.N. SRSG for Afghanistan ssince February of last year.

Koenigs opened today’s discussion by mentioning his concern in regards to the escalating insurgency being carried out by the Taliban and al-Qaeda in the border areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan. He says it is imperative that the governments in both countries recognize and address this matter immediately, as they have been in the past denied the presence of an active insurgency. Additionally, the fact that each state has a history of offering sanctuary to the other’s opponents has fomented bitterness and mistrust between the two neighbors. It is thus vital, Koenigs said, to build a new relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan that facilitates sound governance, security, and development in order to stabilize the border area.

Koenigs acknowledged that constructing a viable strategy to deal with the insurgencies is difficult. He noted that is seems as is difficult to gauge the actual number of active Taliban fighters, which makes the group appear as if it is immune to losses. Koenig also refered to the conflict as an asymmetric war, as the Taliban considers there to be no difference between civilian and military casualties. New trends, such as the precipitous increase in Iraqi-like suicide bombings, illustrate this development. Last year there were139 suicide bombings in the region and this year the Taliban reportedly announced that their goal is 2,000. To compound the problem, there seems to be an unprecedented rise in hostility among ordinary Afghans toward Westerns, as frustration over the occupation mounts and the Karzai government and the international community struggles to build confidence among the Afghan people.

Only by injecting the country with much needed resources and building local Afghan capacity can the international community truly help the government in Kabul establish its legitimacy and win back support from the Afghan people, Koenigs says, adding that 2008 could and should be a decisive year.


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