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Afghanistan’s Peace and Reconciliation Plan: Can it Work?

14 October 2010

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Research for a Better Afghanistan


12 October 2010

Afghanistan’s Peace and Reconciliation Plan: Can it Work?

The prospect of a peace deal with the Taliban is a hot topic, with the
establishment of a High Peace Council to support negotiations and reports of secret talks between the Afghan government and the insurgents. The backbone of the initiative is the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Programme (APRP), which was approved in June 2010 by President Hamid Karzai and is financially backed by the international community. It centers around economic packages for defecting insurgent fighters and their communities, includes provisions for amnesty, and outlines the varying responsibilities of many Afghan ministries and security organs.

However, an AREU analysis of the plan, including a range of key informant interviews in Kabul and Washington DC, has exposed an array of potential flaws, each of which could seriously undermine the APRP’s chances of success. These include a failure to address the role of regional powers, the varied motivations for young men who join the insurgency and the bonds they develop while fighting, the capacity of the Afghan government to effectively implement the complex programme, the degree of interest among insurgent leaders, the desire of the international community for a “quick-fix,” and the implications for long-term peace of compromising on human rights and ignoring the demands of conflict victims.

Recognising that the APRP is being implemented in a volatile political and security environment, author Tazreena Sajjad argues that “anticipation surrounding the strategy should be significantly moderated,” and delivers a set of broad recommendations for the Afghan government and international stakeholders. These include developing a strong and inclusive negotiation strategy, identifying a trusted mediator, making consistent and clarifying the international position on what will be supported, recognising the role of external actors in the conflict, placing the APRP within an articulated regional strategy, and carefully monitoring its implementation.

Peace at all Costs? Reintegration and Reconciliation in Afghanistan, by Tazreena Sajjad, is available for download at Printed copies as well as summary translations in Dari and Pashto will be available free of charge from AREU’s office at a later date.

Attention Media: Tazreena Sajjad is available for interview (US Est).
tazreena[at] / +1 301 717 1461