Building Peace and Connectivity through Research and Dialogue

HAS Research Paper on Lessons Learned from Past Peace Efforts Released

The future of Afghanistan is at an inflection point – Afghans on different sides of the conflict whether as fighters or negotiators – should reflect carefully on their next steps. The history of failed attempts to reconcile differences does not predict the future. But it does provide a sobering portrait of the consequences of failure. The paper, based on research and interviews with actors from all sides involved in failed negotiations in the 1980s and 1990s, sheds light on the causes of these failures.
While the paper makes clear the crippling and disingenuous role of external actors – in neighbouring nations and among other international powers – at the heart of these failures has been the inability of Afghans to compromise. Absolutist positions, winner takes all, my group/party/movement/family gets the spoils while others must fend for themselves. Afghan political leaders have been unable to find solutions for all those who call Afghanistan home.
The rhetoric of victory we are now hearing from one side is intended to produce an echo of defeat from the other. But victory for who? If the history recorded in the attached paper has any lesson it is that a victory for some will bring defeat for all. Will this “victory” return Afghanistan to the wasteland of the late 1990s?
It is true that Afghans in previous negotiations have not failed all on their own. Their failure has been fuelled by external powers. So the need for careful reflection applies equally to Afghanistan’s neighbours and the wider international community. Is an Afghanistan at peace, one that provides healthy livelihoods for all Afghans, one that contributes to the prosperity of the Heart of Asia region, a goal they share?
The future of Afghanistan is at an infection point – what path will Afghans choose? What path will other nations support?
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