The Crucial Security Pact
The fourth round of talks between Afghan and U.S. officials over a security pact, that would allow military presence of the United States in Afghanistan beyond 2014, will begin soon. Afghan officials expect that the talks would progress further, paving the way for preparing the draft of the security agreement. The security pact would define future course of security cooperation between Afghanistan and the United States and legalize presence of US forces in the country after the US-led foreign forces leave the country by end of 2014. A loya Jirga (Grand Assembly) will be convened later to discuss and approve the security pact between Afghanistan and the United States.
The negotiations between Kabul and Washington are inching towards the final stages, as the security situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating and the terrorist attacks by the militant groups have dramatically been increasing. In recent months, the Taliban have been mounting deadly attacks in Kabul and other cities as part of the spring offensive of the militant group. In the meantime, as the Afghan army and police are taking the lead role in the fight against insurgent groups, there has been a sharp rise in casualties of the Afghan National Security Forces in recent months.
All the latest developments suggest that Afghan forces would have a difficult path ahead in fighting the insurgent groups as foreign forces are shifting to a support role and the bulk of their combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan. Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF) desperately needs advanced weaponry and defense equipments to fight the hard-headed insurgency. The ANSF’s lack of crucial military and aerial firepower as well as intelligence and medical capabilities make the forces vulnerable against the resurgence of the insurgent groups.
On the other hand, the efforts for beginning peace negotiations with the insurgents are lagging behind the expectations that it could end the conflict with complete withdrawal of the United States. The war is raging and the peace efforts are stalled with the relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan, whose role is seen as crucial in any peace talks with the Taliban, remaining fragile. Afghan and U.S. officials believe that a peace deal is the only way for ending the long-lasting conflict in Afghanistan. The fact is that despite that the a political settlement is the only way for ending the war but the attempts for negotiations should not put the Afghan government in a weaker position against the Taliban.
The strategy of peace efforts should pursued in line with a robust and continued joint US-Afghan military campaign against the militant groups. For a sustainable anti-insurgency campaign after 2014, the government of Afghanistan needs to secure a robust security deal with the United States and a robust presence of US forces beyond 2014 when the NATO evacuates the bulk of its combat forces. Securing such a deal would enable Afghanistan to be provided with the much-required military equipments and training for its security forces. Direct involvement of the United States and other allied forces in anti-insurgency operations beyond 2014 would substantially lighten the burden of anti-insurgency campaign and help Afghan forces to lead the fight with more confidence.