The Legacies of 2012 and the Tasks for 2013
The year 2012 ended but the chronic challenges such as war, corruption and absence of law governance still remain unsolved. The people still expect the government to lead the country to the right direction, as they expected it to do the job one year ago. The war still continues to ravage the country and take victims. The widespread corruption has placed Afghanistan at the top of the list of corrupt countries in the world. But in the meantime, there are glimpse of hopes as the overall security has slightly improved and the peace efforts finally seem to go the right direction.
In 2012, the peace talks with the insurgent groups were the top priority of the government of Afghanistan. In recent months, we see considerable progress in initial negotiations between the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan for starting official talks on a peaceful settlement of the conflict. For instance, Pakistan has just freed four more Taliban leaders in another step indicating the country is seriously supporting the Afghan-led peace process. Islamabad had previously released some other senior members of the Taliban to jumpstart the process.
Moreover, some while ago, representatives from the Taliban, Afghan political parties and the government attended a secret unofficial meeting in Paris. The meeting was hailed as an overture by the Taliban signaling that the group is finally prepared to talk on future power-sharing. In the meeting, the Taliban signaled that they are willing to talk on collectively ruling the country along with other Afghan parties and they will forgive all those who have fought against the Taliban.
Now, there are hopes that the Taliban would come back on negotiations table and a ceasefire could be attainable in 2013. According to the Afghan government’s peace plan entitled “The Roadmap for peace to 2015” the process would go ahead step by step from confidence-building to ceasefire and on to more concrete steps resulting to power-sharing and granting political concessions to the Taliban.
Afghanistan has gone long way in 2012 to take responsibility of security from the US-led NATO forces. According to the officials, the next phase of transferring security from NATO to Afghan control will begin in two months and aims to cover nearly 90 percent of the country’s population. It is expected that the foreign troops complete the security handover to Afghan forces as well as their combat role in 2013.
Hopefully, the process is relatively considered successful as there is no security deterioration in areas under control of Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). But, in order to lead the process successfully, the government and its international allies need to focus on strengthening the ANSF and fighting the so-called insider attacks on Afghan and NATO forces.
Now it is time to think on what lies ahead. We have the next presidential election ahead and in 2013 we would have a lengthy way of the preparations for the forthcoming election. As the forthcoming political transition is looming, there is not much to talk about progress yet. There is much to be done by the government and the political parties to ensure a transparent and free election and smooth the path for political transition in 2014.