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Decentralisation key to Afghan pullout, says David Miliband

14 January 2011

12:22 PM

14 January 2011

12:22 PM

It is fashionable to ridicule David Miliband’s search for a post-political career. But
in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph the
former Foreign Secretary showed that – for all his mistakes in office – his intellect, and judgement on a number of key issues, including how to bring the Afghanistan War to an end,
was, and remains, razor-sharp:

"Afghanistan’s battles are not just between the Afghan and foreign forces and the Taliban insurgency, but between (and within) Afghanistan’s often warring tribes. When Nato trains the
Afghan National Army, it’s good – but not if you are a Pashtun who sees the predominantly Tajik army as the enemy."

The South Shields MP goes on to argue for "a twin-track political strategy" pointing out what all those of us who have worked in Kabul know, namely that "Afghan or
international armies will not stabilise the country; only a peace deal can do that." Miliband then spells out his route to peace:

"Track one is an internal political settlement. Western influence is currently limited to ineffective and unspecified "pressure" on President Karzai. We need to be far more up
front about our end game: a decentralised series of political settlements in the villages and valleys of Afghanistan, with security forces limited to holding the ring and keeping al-Qaeda
out.

But this track will never get going unless track two – the track of regional political engagement – has real legs. This means agreements which recognise the divergent interests
of the different neighbouring countries, from Pakistan to Iran."


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