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NATO: Winning Peace in Afghanistan
|by Col. Rahul K. Bhonsle|
Afghanistan is fractured between peace and conflict geographically as well as structurally. However NATO can win the peace in Afghanistan because of four trends noticed recently; commitment of the international community, increased obligation by NATO and Australia, citizens welcoming peace and development and finally opening moves of peace talks between government and Taliban.
The UN Security Council authorized NATO-led troops to stay in Afghanistan for another year on 19 September. The vote was 14-0 with Russia abstaining in a resolution that emphasized "the increased violent and terrorist activities by the Taliban, Al Qaeda, illegally armed groups and those involved in the narcotics trade." The resolution also recognizes the need to further strengthen ISAF and asks countries "to contribute personnel, equipment and other resources." And it condemns "in the strongest terms" suicide attacks, abductions and other violent action against civilians and international forces "and their deleterious effect on the stabilization, reconstruction and development efforts."
The document singles out the Taliban "and other extremist groups" for using civilians as human shields. International support will be the first strategy for winning Afghanistan. In no previous wars in this fractured South West Asian state was the international community one, neither backing the British nor the Soviets. This will be the first step that will build success.
Greater commitment of NATO states to stay and increase the level of troops and equipment will be the second step to success. Germany is likely to approve extension of tenure of deployment in Afghanistan while Spain will increase the number of troops. Spain's Parliament agreed on 25 September to send 52 military instructors to Afghanistan, a day after two members of its military contingent died there in a land mine explosion.
Despite the casualties Spain remains committed to helping rebuild post-Taliban Afghanistan, where it has 700 soldiers, and the instructors to train Afghan forces. France has decided to send 200 more troops comprising of signal officers and military advisers, who would help train the Afghan army, said French Defence Minister Herve Morin after his meeting with Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov in Dushanbe on 7 September.
Additional commitment of nations to Afghanistan is welcome as it would facilitate maintaining adequate security presence even if it is in the less turbulent North and West of the country. By restricting the Taliban to the South and the East, offensive action is contemplated to neutralize and force it from guerrilla warfare to a networked terror mode.
There is an upsurge in school education. About six million children, half the school-aged population, are in school in Afghanistan, about six times more than in 2001.
However nearly 400 schools in Afghanistan remain closed because of violence. All the affected schools, among 8,500 in Afghanistan, are in the south, where the violence is worst. Since 2005, more than 110 teachers, students and other education workers have been killed, most of them in southern Afghanistan. The closure meant that around 200,000 school children would not be able to attend classes in four provinces in the unrest-torn south. All this will add to the peace dividend.
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