South Asia and Beyond

‘Unite, Form Team To Talk To Taliban Or Face Intensified Afghan Civil War’

KABUL: The U.S threat to cut up to 20 percent of its aid is a sign that it doesn’t see the current fractured Afghan government as essential to its goal of withdrawal: Laurel Miller, Director of Crisis Group’s Asia Programme tells Shabeer Ahmadi, the head of the foreign desk, Tolo News. Miller, who was former U.S. acting special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, says the door is open, but not for too long, for President Ashraf Ghani and Dr Abdullah Abdullah to sort out their differences and agree on an inclusive team to negotiate with the Taliban. Ms Miller warns that the political fracture in Kabul is feeding into the Taliban narrative of them being more coherent and cohesive. She warns that Washington’s signals are clear, it is looking at not only withdrawing troops but pulling out financially if Afghan politicians can’t bridge their differences. If that doesn’t happen and the situation deteriorates, Ms Miller says it’s a recipe for intensified civil war. It’s cruel to Afghans, she points out, that politicians are not united in the battle against the coronavirus. She doesn’t exclude the theoretical possibility of other politicians(without Ghani or Abdullah) talking to the Taliban if the situation deteriorates further.

Laurel Miller is presently director of Crisis Group’s Asia Programme. From 2013 to mid-2017, she was the deputy and then acting Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the U.S. Department of State. She was directly involved in peace negotiations in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Macedonia. Ms Miller has been a senior foreign policy expert at the RAND Corporation, the U.S. Institute of Peace and a Fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations.

(By arrangement with Tolo News)

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