This brief outlines key findings from the first phase of research on Afghan stakeholder views on the conflict. The author worked in Afghanistan for the World Bank and the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit from 2005-2010, and has researched governance and peace processes in Southeast Asia, Central America and Afghanistan.

Peace Brief: Afghan Perspectives on Achieving Durable Peace

Summary

  • Afghans across different groups see the United States as a key party to the conflict whose direct participation in a peace process is crucial to its success, and therefore question the effectiveness of U.S. emphasis on an “Afghan-led” reconciliation strategy.
  • The U.S. must engage directly in negotiating a settlement because of its control over the issue of withdrawal of NATO forces. The Taliban demand for full withdrawal prior to talks appears to be an opening position. A challenge will be linking a structure for drawdown to necessary steps by insurgents to allow a cessation of violence and prevent Afghanistan’s use for terrorism.
  • A settlement process will entail discussion of the composition and future of the Afghan National Security Forces, and the current “transition” strategy of a large army and expanding local defense initiatives will almost certainly need re-examining during such a process.
  • The conflict is not only a struggle for power and resources; it is also a legitimacy crisis stemming from a system of power and patronage that feeds conflict. From this perspective, a settlement should address the concentration of powers in the presidency through incremental reform to appointments, elections, or farther-reaching changes to the structure of government over time.
  • There is a tension between reform and using political appointments to accommodate power-sharing demands. A durable settlement will need to involve political and social agreements among Afghans taking into account the views of a range of stakeholders. To manage this tension, the intra-Afghan peace process should be oriented toward broad inclusion of non-combatants while balancing the secrecy required to make progress.

About this Brief

Hamish Nixon coordinates a joint project of the Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI), the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), on durable peace in Afghanistan.

This brief outlines key findings from the first phase of research on Afghan stakeholder views on the conflict. The author worked in Afghanistan for the World Bank and the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit from 2005-2010, and has researched governance and peace processes in Southeast Asia, Central America and Afghanistan.

Related Publications

How the Taliban’s Hijab Decree Defies Islam

How the Taliban’s Hijab Decree Defies Islam

Thursday, May 12, 2022

By: Belquis Ahmadi;  Mohammad Osman Tariq

The Taliban continued this week to roll back Afghan women’s rights by decreeing women must be fully covered from head to toe — including their faces — to appear in public. This follows decrees limiting women’s ability to work, women’s and girls’ access to education and even limiting their freedom of movement. Afghan women are rapidly facing the worst-case scenario many feared when the Taliban took over last summer. While the Taliban justify these moves as in accordance with Islam, they are, in fact, contradicting Islamic tradition and Afghan culture as the group looks to resurrect the full control they had over women and girls when they ruled in the 1990s.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

GenderHuman RightsReligion

Why Religion-Based Support is Vital for Afghan Refugees

Why Religion-Based Support is Vital for Afghan Refugees

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

By: Andrés Martínez;  Carolina Buendia Sarmiento

The increasing violence and insecurity in Afghanistan could force over half a million more people to migrate from the country by the end of 2022, adding to the population of almost 2.6 million Afghan refugees worldwide. And for these millions of migrants, the plight of serious mental health challenges is a concern that we cannot afford to overlook.

Type: Blog

Religion

Pakistan’s Twin Taliban Problem

Pakistan’s Twin Taliban Problem

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

By: Asfandyar Mir, Ph.D.

Pakistan and the Afghan Taliban are teetering on the brink of a major crisis. Since coming into power, the Taliban has defied Pakistan — its main state benefactor during the insurgency against the United States military and the deposed Afghan government. It has done so by challenging the status of the Afghan-Pakistan border and providing a haven to the anti-Pakistan insurgent group the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistani Taliban, which has killed thousands of Pakistanis and seeks to establish a Taliban-style, Shariah-compliant state in Pakistan. This has stunned Islamabad, which was operating on the assumption that the Taliban would be beholden to Pakistan out of gratitude for years of support.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

Intolerance of Atrocity Crimes in Ukraine Should Apply to Afghanistan

Intolerance of Atrocity Crimes in Ukraine Should Apply to Afghanistan

Thursday, April 28, 2022

By: Belquis Ahmadi;  Kate Bateman;  Scott Worden

Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has caused massive loss of life and destruction of property, forcing millions to seek refuge in neighboring countries. There is mounting evidence that the Russian military has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, intentionally attacking Ukrainian civilians. The urgent attention that Western countries have given to Russian war crimes and other atrocities in Ukraine has the potential to provide some accountability for gross violations of human rights as well as to shore up a faltering framework of international human rights law.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Human RightsJustice, Security & Rule of LawGlobal Policy

View All Publications