NEW YORK, Sept. 9, 2008 - Dr. Abdullah Abdullah said that domestic problems have contributed to the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and blamed the present government for not pursuing cohesive policies. During an interview with the Asia Society, he said that the Taliban were considered a "spent force" a few years ago and have now established bases inside the country.
According to Dr. Abdullah, regional and international factors have also contributed to escalating levels of violence and insecurity in the country. He said support for the Taliban from different elements in Pakistan as well as the presence of terrorist camps there have been key determinants.
At the international level, Dr. Abdullah argued that clear political and military goals for Afghanistan had not been determined, and the policies being pursued need urgent review. He emphasized that additional troops are essential to achieving stability and security in Afghanistan, but that they cannot be the only element; any increase in the foreign military presence needs to be part of a more comprehensive strategy.
The increase in civilian deaths in Afghanistan during NATO military operations, he said, is also a source of concern. The US, he maintained, should not let the "enemies of Afghanistan" capitalize on these incidents by immediately disavowing responsibility so that the people of Afghanistan know that all parties are equally troubled by these events.
Commenting on what he described as the "chaos" within the Afghan government, and the increasingly strained relations between the legislative and the executive branches, Dr. Abdullah said he would like to see some sort of devolution of power from the center to the provinces.
He expressed optimism about the presidential race scheduled for October 2009, hopeful that the next administration would establish a "moderate, Islamic Afghanistan" which is also democratic.
The next administration in the US, he said, should ensure that the elections in Afghanistan take place as scheduled and that they are conducted in a free and fair manner. He was hopeful that the US would not focus on an individual or small group of people but rather provide broader support to the country by empowering Afghans in governance and security, initiating Afghan-led local arrangements in coordination with international forces.
Interview conducted by Nermeen Shaikh, Asia Society Online.
Listen to the complete interview (23 min., 13 sec.)