Afghanistan: Karzai Warily Eyes a Future He Doesn’t Control
Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani arrive at the prime minister's house in Islamabad on February 16. Pakistan welcomed the leaders of Afghanistan and Iran for a regional summit on peace efforts with the Taliban and enhanced cooperation after ten years of war in Afghanistan. (AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)
February 23, 2012
| Security
| Asia and the Pacific
Afghan President Hamid Karzai is deeply suspicious that the United States will make a secret deal with the Taliban. To prevent this, he’s angling for ways to reach his own accommodation with the extremists who governed Afghanistan until 2001, when the U.S.-led coalition drove them from power. But can Karzai and the Taliban really make peace?After a decade of fighting that has failed to produce a decisive military advantage, Karzai and his security advisers are now focused on shaping the political and security situation that will remain in Afghanistan following the 2014 withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops. To this end, Karzai is exploring how to bring the Taliban and possibly other extremist groups based in Pakistan into negotiations for a political settlement.

At the same time, Afghanistan’s defense minister, Abdul Rahim Wardak, has deep concerns regarding an emerging U.S. plan to substantially reduce the number of Afghan security forces to be trained and paid for by the United States. Those plans follow the Obama administration’s decision to end its military commitment in Afghanistan a year sooner -- in mid to late 2013. There is an increasing possibility that the United States will leave Afghanistan without an adequately sized or trained Afghan military capable of resisting future Taliban aggression.

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