tv U.S.- Taliban Peace Process Discussion CSPAN September 13, 2019 10:09am-12:12pm EDT
usip at the asia center. i'm delighted to welcome today to today's are important and timely event. as many of you know, usip was founded 35 years ago by members of congress as an independent nonpartisan national institute charged with the vital important mission of protecting mitigating and resolving violence abroad. today's topic is very near and dear to usip. we've had an office in kabul since 2002 and where closely with the afghan and u.s. governments, civil side organization, and others to address underlying causes of instability and violence. support to the afghan peace process is a top priority for usip. we dedicated considerable effort over the last two years to support research, dialogue, skill building workshops and policy analysis both here in washington and in afghanistan. throughout all our efforts with
held fast to the conviction that for peace process to be sustainable, it must be inclusive. in fact, we recently held a workshop in istanbul with top negotiators from afghanistan, most of whom had each participated in various components of the peace negotiations including many who joined the first dialogue with the taliban in doha. it is been a turbulent week in washington, to say the least. a week ago many of us had anticipated that there be a u.s.-taliban agreement between the united states and the taliban, which was going to initially be the topic for today's discussion. that deal is now uncertain. while the u.s.-taliban talks have been ended, at least for the time being, the urgency of finding a way to reduce violence and achieve a legal settlement of the conflict remains. the taliban and afghan government backed by the u.s.
and nato allies are in a military stalemate. other groups like isis and al-qaeda retain footholds in afghanistan, and afghans continued to suffer ever greater civilian casualties. the need for peace is palpable. whatever -- whatever path lights had we know the way forward must provide lasting security and preserve hard-won gains. we have an exceptionally well-qualified group of people today to discuss where things stand in the peace process and help illuminate a very complex situation and identifying ways forward including afghanistan ambassador to the united states, roya rahmani. welcome. i distinguished panel of experts including the new chairwoman of the afghanistan independent human rights commission, who is joining us by the link -- video link in trouble. scott worden were moderate the discussion and take questions from the audience.
i encourage you all to follow the conversation on twitter at usip in today's hashtag, #afghanpeace. during the q&a period will also take some questions via twitter at this hashtag. once again at usip, hashtag afgpeace. check out the new ipod network which will include this event and many other compelling programs featuring leading voices and peace, violent conflict prevention and national security. before we begin today's moderated discussion i had the distinct pleasure of inviting ambassador roya rahmani to the stage for some opening remarks. ambassador rahmani became the first ambassador of afghanistan to the united states in december of last year and she quickly became a friend to usip.
not only has she been a fierce advocate for the women of afghanistan, or own story exemplifies the resilience and perseverance of the afghan people. like millions of other afghans, she and her family live as refugees in neighboring pakistan during the early 1990s. she attended attended a school for refugees and peshawar and when the classrooms overflowed with students, she studied on the roof for a year. she went on to earn a bachelors in software engineering, worked for a number of international nonprofits can focus on human rights, received a masters in public administration and international law from columbia university. she's worked in education ministry, minister of foreign affairs, served as afghanistan ambassador to indonesia. please join me in welcoming ambassador rahmani. [applause]
>> excellencies, distinguished guests, mrs. lindbergh, mr. wilder, distinguished panelists, friends and colleagues, good morning to all of you. may peace be upon you. it's a pleasure to be here at the united states institute of peace, to speak about the prospects of peace and afghanistan. the afghan people have been speaking about peace for a long time. we have yearned for it, planned for it and fought for it. with the type of commitment that comes from knowing what it is like to live without it.
beginning with the rollout of the 7. agenda during the process in 2017 which was followed by historic cease-fire, the first in 40 years, the people of afghanistan and their elected representatives have been eager to engage in a meaningful peace process. since 2017 we have continued to engage the global community and our regional partners on this issue to numerous platforms. including the heart of asia and the geneva conference. importantly, we have made concerted efforts to engage with our neighbors to ensure that the region is mobilized and ready to support us in this plan that we have. despite many challenges our progress towards peace has maintained its momentum.
the past spring i attended a grand council in kabul along with 3200 delegates from across afghanistan who came together to lend their voice, their voices, to the peace process. one of the things that struck me the most was the practicality with which the afghans approach the idea of peace. people came from provinces not with abstract ideas, but with clear agenda and precise demands for building a prosperous future. among the many requests put forward to the president was to support the expiration once provinces which minerals, for better roads to increase
connectivity all over. my experience really confirmed something that i already knew. peace is in an abstract concept for afghans. it's a tangible goal. and it's grounded in three critical foundations. democracy, economic prosperity, and security. so allow me to explain a little bit about each what i mean. democracy, peace building, the kind the brings about long-term peace and stability, required consensus, and widespread popular buy-in. we know that this can only be accomplished among population that is in seeing the terms of the agreement that they will ultimately be responsible for enforcing it.
we have worked hard to create the kind of environment in afghanistan where the level of civic engagement is possible, and we've seen so much progress. when young people today, particularly -- critique administration and event better, i see it as a major come as a measure of how far we have. our citizens have come to expect democracy. they are holding us accountable and learning to trust the democratic process. with this in mind, the government has remained focused on approving government and strengthening democratic institution in afghanistan. despite the political costs. the administration has fought against the corruption and impunity which is the the way our foundation.
we are bringing much-needed reform to the justice sector. where delivering critical services like education and health care. as we work to regain the trust of the people, we are laying a necessary foundation. the progress is clear. the progress we have made in democracy is safeguarded by the maintenance of constitutional order. last october, despite overwhelming odds and local detractors we had successful and peaceful elementary election. today we have a sitting and functioning parliament, which although not perfect, is able to compel its functions. we must continue to build stability and support the
continuity of the democratic processes to the election that are scheduled for later this month. this is a priority. if we want to succeed in creating peace in afghanistan we must pay attention to this. at this critical juncture we must foster this fragile trust in afghan junk democracy by showing afghan citizens that their contribution matter and that their voices will not be ignored. on the economic prosperity, of course politics do not happen in vacuum. and we know that -- no elections are enough to guarantee long-lasting peace. with the success of one innovative type to the other, understand the relationship
between economic growth and peace is crucial to the success of any peace process. what we learned in afghanistan following generations of conflict, and now decades of hard work, is that popular buy-in that's all important commitment that keeps people focus on building a peaceful future despite difficulties and setbacks is sustained by single, critical sentiment, hope. we also know that hope or the belief that a better future will come out of all the blood and sweat and tears that must be poured into making peace a reality is directly linked to opportunity. afghanistan is the youngest country outside of africa, 68% of afghans are under the age of
25. in 18 your sense the american intervention, this young generation has come of age with aspiration that those who came before them never were there to reach for. they want education and jobs. they want the ability to connect to the rest of the world. the vision that they hold future opportunity and prosperity is the most effective insurance we have against violence and terrorism. sustaining this hope by ensuring that our people continue to have opportunities has been a priority for the afghan government, and is a key pillar of our peace plan and reform agenda. it's a goal that i know we share with our international and
regional partners who also want to see afghanistan safe and self-reliant. we have made progress on these goals and number of ways, from expanding regional trade and transit opportunities to supporting advancements. as an example, just two days ago on september 7 the first train shipment caring 41 container wagon and 1100 tons of powder departed afghanistan for china. the cargo will arrive at the destination after a 12 day journey. we are prioritizing the future prospects of our young citizens by ensuring that doing business in afghanistan is getting easier every day. we have undertaken reform to incentivize investment, including strengthening management of our public
finances. the 2010 budget is a first fully transparent in the country's history. it meets international standards and is the primary tool for the policymaking and prioritization. finally, , we have introduced my new laws including public-private partnership law, a new companies law, undo insolvency law and a new mining law. as a result of these efforts, afghanistan was named one of the top ten world banks doing business indicator approvers since 2018. based on the mayor's of the many projects were implementing, the imf has agreed that afghanistan can begin -- [inaudible] our plans for economic self-reliance are achievable and within reach. in the past four years we've seen a 90% increase in our
cumulative revenue versus previous four years. currently we are able to pay for 50% of our expenses, , and every year we would like to cut down 10% and increase 10% of our revenue. based on this plan even allowing for unfortunate challenges we can expect to be self-reliant within three to five years. this is a solid starting point for peace and we are extremely grateful for our partner who have invested so much in giving us here. but now we must embrace the challenge of standing on our feet. as a group of businessmen that i met during my last trip just last week in afghanistan, who told me that we are no longer putting our hands out to beg for aid money. instead, we are reaching for
partnership, opportunities, and the infrastructure to support sustainable economic growth. in our quest for long-term economic prosperity we are laying the groundwork for sustained peace. and last but not least, is security. a study of over 33 peace agreements that confirm that a cease-fire and stabilization is a critical first step in any peace process. it's not hard to see why this is particularly relevant in afghanistan. i can just return from two weeks trip in afghanistan, during which there were 347 casualties. over 127 of them were civilians.
the frustration and sadness that president trump expressed over -- in kabul last week is shared very deeply by afghan citizens. it's impossible to begin the process of rebuilding trust under these conditions. and the taliban of course is not the only threat we face. in addition to the vast terror networks that the taliban does not control, we are also engaged in a war against narcotics industry whose thinkers stress across the ocean to the individuals in america. because of this reality the people of afghanistan are well aware that needed security nor peace can be delivered by a settlement with anyone who -- [inaudible] and we are so grateful for the
support we've received, particularly from our american partners in our shared efforts to confront the -- these groups poster onto afghanistan but to the entire area. thanks to the support and the bravery of our security forces, we have made steady progress. with tripling of our air force and doubling of our commander, the afghan security forces have been defeating every weight of taliban intensified attack since the beginning of the year. i want to conclude by saying that although progress isn't always easy to see come with made significant strides in laying the groundwork of peace and afghanistan. for the first time in generations, we have the vision,
the wealth and human capital necessary to achieve our goals. we know peace is on the horizon. we also know that it will come from our terms. that kind of peace that afghans in patient is very much aligned with the counterterrorism efforts that the united states wants to see your the prosperity peaceful society that we are working to build will not only bring security to afghanistan. it is the best insurance that the world could have against the global threats of terrorism. as franklin roosevelt once said, in the truest sense, freedom cannot be just slowed. it must be achieved. believe this also applies to peace. with their dedication and the support of our partners, i know
afghanistan and central asia programs for united states institute of peace -- [inaudible] >> thank you. is the microphone on? i will project my voice. i am scott worden, the director for the afghanistan and central asia program here at usip -- [inaudible] >> thank you. >> do we have to turn hours off? >> is this working now? great. i'm scott worden, director of afghanistan and central asia programs at united states institute of peace. thank you, ambassador for this wonderful opening remarks. we are very pleased to have distinguished panel to discuss further the issue of the peace process in afghanistan.
i think for our afghanistan audience, , these will be well know. i will give brief introductions joining us on the screen behind is shaharzad akbar, currently the chairperson of the afghanistan independent human rights commission. she has experience not just as human rights activists but also as a civil society leader and a government official. she recently served as a deputy of the national security council for afghanistan, and she was the leader of the open society afghanistan ngo. she will be speaking first. i'm also joined by michael semple on the far right, professor at the queen's university belfast at the mitchell institute answers of the wreck of the mitchell institute for global peace, security and justice. he has worked intervals with the united nations and ngos in afghanistan and he served as a deputy for several years of the european union special representatives office. also to his left is doctor
barnett rubin, senior fellow and associate director of the center for international cooperation at new york university and a longtime afghanistan scholar. he served as senior advisor to the state department special representative for afghanistan and pakistan and has also advise united nations going on the bonn peace process. and then finally to my immediate right is laurel miller, the asia director at international crisis group. prior to that she was the acting special representative for afghanistan-pakistan with the state department and has also worked in positions at rand and at usip. so we will first hear from kabul, afghanistan, shaharzad akbar. thank you for joining us. it is late in the day there. of course when i first sent out invitations for this event we were expecting to talk about the impact of u.s.-taliban agreement. now that is suspended but i think really that agreement, if it was to occur, if it does still occur, it's really just
the first act of what will be a long and difficult peace process. and that true hurdle lies in afghan to afghan negotiations included with the taliban come with the company, , and other elements of afghan society. so for this panel i've asked the speakers to speak from of course their different perspectives, but what lies ahead. how do we address the most fundamental issues of negotiations and notably getting to a cease-fire and lasting peace? so without further ado, shaharzad, the floor is yours. >> good morning, everyone. i'm really honored to be part of this reducing was panel. and speak first about the reactions of the recent investment by president trump, and then speak -- what lies ahead for the process. the reaction to president trump's announcement about
u.s.-taliban talks -- [inaudible] there were a lot of positive reactions also by the media from afghan that the process was not moving forward in in a way that should and frustrated about involvement, shared concerns about the implications of the process for future afghan. it was also responses that highlighted the concern. i remember right after that announcement my mom was asking me does this mean the war will go on for much longer? so there was also a set of responses coming from afghanistan about the implications of the cancellation of talks for the conflict, and particularly for --
[inaudible] there's also responses that haven't have we been covered much by meeting but there's ambivalence. many of us were watching the u.s.-taliban talks smoothly and had concerns about how the talks were going. about the way the taliban were being received by international security and by the u.s., positioning themselves, and this general disregard for the previous -- [inaudible] as well as their own irony about engaging with the afghans and the arrogance about their vision for the future of afghan and her statements about the vision, and yet -- [inaudible] there were concerns about how the u.s.-taliban talks are going, but there's also, due to
that concern, these concerned with voice repeatedly but that doesn't mean there isn't a growing concern about the need for an end to conflict. i think one of the things, the reaction to the talks also -- the reaction, the announcement also illustrated was growing concern about the need to end the violence, and about the need for negotiations of talks to end the violence and conflict in afghanistan. i think moving forward from the reaction, i think the reactions have -- [inaudible] for all stakeholders involved. for the u.s. government come for international partners, the positive reaction of u.s.-taliban talks -- afghans were -- of what the talks would
be for afghanistan. they were very concerned about how the taliban were treated in the sense they were having -- and the consequence of -- [inaudible] the way they were. and so i think moving forward if and when the talks will continue, there are lessons about, there are lessons to be learned about the reaction in terms of building more confidence among afghans more generally towards the use taliban talks and what this could mean for the future of afghan. we cannot really have a peaceful outcome if majority of the population -- that's happening between u.s. and taliban. and i think that came out in
reactions of suspension as well. in terms of the afghan government, i think this is an unfortunate -- government and political entities to regroup and to really think deeply about the concept of an afghan led peace process. there's a lot of emphasis from our political allegiance on the ownership of afghan, ownership requires confidence building and requires leadership and ownership requires preparedness. as a citizen i'm concerned about the level of preparedness and the cohesion on the non-taliban side. i think many citizens activists are concerned about this. this is the time for the afghan government and political elites to have commitment to the afghan ownership of building cohesion
and preparing better for the dialogue for when it happens. i think that our messages for taliban from this reaction. the sense that many afghans had from various taliban talks was that as the talks are getting more and more arrogant, they are becoming less and less interested in engaging the afghans and we need an exchange about the lies. [inaudible] their worldview and -- expressed in afghanistan. i assume my colleagues that i tend my colleagues memorial ceremony yesterday. off to taliban violence last week. his name was -- andy came from
-- not from urban community. when i was attending the memorial yesterday, family read a declaration which asked specifically the afghan government and international community to not engage and then fading their words, is not mikan but the group taliban. there are a lot of feelings of anger and fear, anxiety among afghans towards taliban here and i think the process of u.s.-taliban talks, taliban feel they don't need engagement -- have an agreement that has put them in a position perhaps impose their own view. sigh think the message from the reaction is very -- the taliban are interested in long-term peace in afghanistan which this avr. they really need to engage with
afghans because in the long term, they have to sit there with the afghan government, sit down with the different sectors of afghan society and they better sibling relationships now. in terms of the message they had for the society, we have to continue to make the work we do for advocating for an inclusive peace. we also have to work on broadening the alliance for the values we believe in. this would be work in afghanistan. the values that we stand for other values of all afghan. >> what we need to do, work harder to ensure the alliance for a strong and the boys towards these -- all corners of afghanistan and the platform issued with the first group of afghans. and, of course, one thing that is particular to the commission,
favorite import for us is in this process we believe that we need to pay attention and think deeply about asking whites for differences across all afghan society including among aries central by taliban, and are those who achieve lasting peace? without answering these questions, how and why we will not have peace for afghans come will have continued cycles of violence. i will stop there and i will be happy to answer any questions you might have. >> thank you. we'll do presentations from all the panelists before opening up for questions. michael semple, you are up next. >> hello, everyone here i hope i don't surprise you by saying that i am perhaps more
optimistic for the prospect the peace and afghanistan that was a week ago. i think that we shall see progress towards peace and afghanistan. in large part for the reasons that shaharzad and the ambassador have explained to us. we fundamentally, afghans and all sides of the conflict have reached the conclusion that now this war has run its course, it's time to find a way out. in this crazy way things are proceeded, over the past week or two, i think that there now may be better prospects for this progress. i'm also glad that the ambassador mentioned at the start the cease-fire of june 2018. i think that's a good part to reflect. there was an event in usip the
days leading up to that. i think we should have a vision, that we saw scenes throughout afghanistan from almost every province of afghanistan where within days of announcement by the president, with which he called for a unilateral cessation of violence, the taliban were essentially balanced into following suit. and we saw these absolutely crazy, chaotic, innocence classic afghan, good spirited, not really controlled by anybody, youngsters would been up in the mountains coming into town, the interior minister out in the streets taking salafis with taliban who basically wanted out of the country. and then assess the challenges to recapture the spirit of that and turned into reality so that it's not three days, so it's
forever. however, when saying this as a good point at which to start our thinking about peace now, there are right lessons and wrong lessons you control from the one of the right lessons is the desire for peace cuts across the sides of the conflict. amongst the taliban and amongst, you know, the afghans who live in government controlled areas part of the current political system. one of the wrong lessons that some people drew was that aha, the taliban, taliban command-and-control system is supreme, and that it was the order from the taliban that was sufficient to bring about these scenes. because that i know has been used by some people in
constructing subsequent other countries can aha, if we only go to attack the same leadership and persuade to come on board with a peace process, everything will be fine. because actually when we followed in detail what was going on there, of course the taliban fighters who came into town and went on facebook and so on, they used as a cover for the actions the order which to come through but the process was well be on the ability of the leadership to control and was actually, much of it was in defiance of the instructions from the commanders. in fact, by day two of the cease-fire we had taliban commanders were basically screaming saying we told you to stop fire, not to go and make friends. it was a subversive cease fire. and in a strange sort of which i think the progress to peace is more likely to involve subversive elements rather than
necessarily sanctions coming from the top. i was asked to sort of say how did the taliban see the current situation, the developments around the suspension or collapse of the process. i mean, in in a sense part of e continuing good news is that many of the taliban are just as confused as people about what hundred just happened. sometimes confusion is good because out of confusion can come a new way forward. one of the reasons i say this confusion is that if that what we had before was that, i know, for example, barney and i worked hard on this case for many years. years. i was thinking of how to explain to millennials in the audience how long we've been working on this. i'll tell you what it was. the first time the professor rubin and i sat down to do a
little quite a discussion about what the way forward is, he had in his hand his first digital device, and i was looking at it enviously, what is this in your hand, professor rubin? so that's how long -- exact, it was a palm pilot. [laughing] and wow, it was so cool. i was really impressed. and it was also come funny enough that was also the air when -- first book on the taliban because our member on the flight, my flight back to the region i had a copy of it and a slightly -- young man in the pre-9/11 days a monastic piece of the book and he said can you tell how i can join ask i didn't. anyway, the leadership has been confused because obviously they thought they knew what was going on and do trying to work out what was happening.
the run up to that was a bad throughout the year of this process, the leadership systematically avoided explaining to the membership of the taliban movement what was anticipated for this peace process. in direct contrast to other processes with which many of us are familiar, particularly i follow the irish process but the i.r.a. spent years and months bring their side forward. the taliban didn't take the trouble to talk to their membership. and went on the 30th of august they started to talk to their leadership, to their membership, about what the deal was, they pivoted from the only message was the negotiations, are the negotiations like a continuation of the jihadist, trust the negotiators. everything they do serves the jihad. they pivoted to say this deal achieves everything we ever stood for and signing this deal is security of the restoration.
without many details to back it up, they systematically avoided giving those details. and now for those of us who spend our time trying to understand and explain, that was highly problematic. i mean, unless somebody finds a way as they do to revive this can resort never know what we really intend because they certainly were not honest with their membership. i was asked to say it did take seriously the inter-afghan talks, even ideas of kind of compromise solutions. that's something they didn't share with the membership. people vaguely knew there was a movement towards inter-afghan talks but there was certainly no clear understanding inside the movement of what would happen there and certainly there was no
reparation for compromise and move towards inter-afghan settlement as opposed to talks. but i will say that along with this over sold message that we getting the islamic emirate back in robert run across a movemene was something which was actually starting to play to the spirit of june 2018. i think a majority of taliban thought that perhaps there was a move towards peace, although they were not told honestly about how that could be, and perhaps their leaders didn't intend to do it. so certainly along with the confusion is been a lot of disappointment. i fed communicate over the past few days bitter discipline,, people on the taliban side who thought maybe this war is about to end here they are not deeply disappointed because they are told back to the grind stone. in trying to make sense of how the taliban see it, i think we have to look, make a distinction
between how this is a team saw and how the rest of the movement sought. my research on the past year has said there's fundamental the virgins in way. pretty highly disciplined team that has grown up in qatar that is got behind this process, and some of them, as this it can have become professional diplomats, what good at doing the job they are good at trying, whether it be to co-opt or intimidate or bamboozle, friends like shaharzad though i'm sure the target you pretty hard while you're there. i mean, they were a cool thing but they're completely separate from the people who were there in afghanistan. broadly, they justified what they were doing and saying we are the political front of the struggle, the rest of which is a military front. i was also asked to say, are
there differences inside the movement over talk versus fight? i have been approached by many taliban who i i believe in ther commitment to ending this war, whose perpetual question is when is anybody going to talk with us? what are you people always in the building hardliners? innocence, helping reinforce the control of our hardliners over the struggle? they are talking back to the spirit of the cease-fire because it was a subversive element to the cease-fire which allowed to succeed for a while, or at least show the road, as we've never been able to engage support in peacemaking over the past year. we have evidence that significant factions in sufficient numbers inside taliban movement have also reached the conclusion that this war has run its course and must end. many of them of also reached the conclusion must be based on
and any further conversation about troops if i i were giving advice it would be the conversation with ms. a defense of afghanistan and chief of army staff, and it's how the redeployments of use troops could be done in a safe way. and the agenda on piece is about how to jump forward towards supporting the emergence of an afghan settlement so we don't need now to be able to return to the formers book with the taliban, an important conversation too bad. now is born to jump ahead so that which is supposed be cheap the next age is meant to be the inter-afghan conversation. the worst thing we could do would be then just go to qatar and carry on with the conversations and we empower the people who did indeed get to -- the last you let them reflect for a while. think about how they overplayed their hand. open up the conversations to all possible addresses for the taliban who are prepared to get involved in peace, at the
touchstone of getting involved in peace as ambassador correctly pointed, which is towards ending violence and ending the killing of afghans. that's the passport to talking, being part of the peace process. and i believe there is sufficient buy-in on all sides within the afghan war to be able to proceed on the basis but create a thinking, learning lessons from the past year and moving forward rather than going back. afghans want peace. they will achieve it. >> thank you very much. we will see whether mission success is turning after the end of this paper let me turn over to barnett rubin for his comments. >> thank you, michael, for that reminiscence. before i go on i just want to thank ambassador rahmani and shaharzad akbar for the excellent statements. i also have a memory which is some out and preparing for this
talk to the extent i prepared, i recalled the first time i gave a public talk about -- in washington, d.c. and which as i recall it was meeting, organized 35 years ago at american university that i shared, the two speakers were -- and i. >> donnie. at that time -- i forgot it. at that time i wrote a report on human rights relations in afghanistan which was entitled a nation is dying which is what one of the mujahedin leaders said to me. so clearly, that was not true. afghanistan was not dying. if that by now the afghans have been dying since that time, and really i cannot overstate the urgency with which we need to end that process. i feel that i should take
priority over virtually everything else. so now i will step back and put on my analyst hat. i've been asked to talk about regional and international issues. let me just start with very basic facts that are often ignored. .. no other country can have access to it. without going through the territories or airspace of
pakistan, iran, china or -- also essentially landlocked to which we have access through china and russia. that is the main picture. that landlocked position is in many ways at the origin of these conflict and dilemmas because when afghanistan found itself in conflict with a newly formed nation of pakistan over various border issues the united states -- if the united states could not even afghan's military, turned to the soviet. the decision in its landlocked position to turn to a distant power against, to protect itself against its neighbor and the results we know. as a cautionary tale,
afghanistan tried to turn to the united states which does not have a border with it, will be a cautionary tale in the long run. means alliance with the united states, reliance on the united states with security of afghanistan is not a long-term strategy but the engagement is not a sure thing. why is that the case? afghanistan is not only the poorest, youngest country in the world outside of africa, it is the poorest country in the world outside, by far poorer than any other country in asia. all of the achievements we have been talking about and celebrating are not financed by afghanistan. cannot be financed by afghanistan. when the government talks about its chief incident increasing
its revenue and becoming more self-sufficient it is talking about covering the operating budget. it is not talking about sustaining these development projects. therefore, afghanistan's future appears to be sustainable, depends on the developing economy. the landlocked country, that means connectivity to world markets. the afghan public sector, military, state, is dependent on direct financial aid from the united states which is dependent under logistical access to afghanistan. the united states, primarily through pakistan. our relations with iran undergo a u-turn or more infrastructure, that will be
the only alternative for that type of relationship. for connectivity to actually get the afghan economy moving the engine has to be an investment. who are afghanistan's main trading partners. there's been >>, one of the achievements of the current administration in afghanistan is to diversify afghanistan's trading partners. afghanistan's main trading partners are iran, pakistan, china. furthermore, where would the engine of economic growth the? for a long time there wasn't any potential engine there, no economic incentive. people call it power of attraction like joining the european union. the growth of india and china has meant that there is economic dynamism that is
linked to the afghan economy could lead to some kind of take off. but china's mechanism for building connectivity build a road initiative including the china pakistan economic arm which the united states and india oppose. in fact, right now, the united states and china are locked in a dispute at the united nations over whether the resolution renewing the mandate of the united nations will mention -- the us opposes it, china is insistent, same happened last year and it ended up the resolution. india's access to afghanistan is cut off by land by pakistan, depends on access through iran, through the port of chapo heart and other ports.
the united states has iran under sanctions, essentially frozen the development and made it impossible to extend that. one of the effects of the two phenomena is per capita gdp growth in afghanistan for the past two years has been negative as population growth has been faster than gdp growth. that is not a path to self-sufficiency and stability. as long as afghanistan is dependent for its security on the presence of the united states which is opposed strategically to the connectivity projects that afghanistan needs to become self-sufficient, that presence can never stabilize. what does this mean? first of all, the option of
afghanistan being stabilize through long-term us presence as michael said, it is off the table despite what people talk about. the alternative to the deal that has been halted or ended or whatever is not a long-term us force. there is no armistice like korea, no military victory like germany or unconditional surrender like japan, no end of hostilities between china and taiwan. the alternative is us withdrawal on some other terms. one of the positive achievements of this diplomatic process that hasn't gotten much attention has been the development of a consensus among us, russia and china, pakistan, on this process.
the core of that consensus is about a responsible transition to withdrawal of us troops to afghanistan. it is not about permanent us presence conducting the forever war on terror in afghanistan and so far russia, china and pakistan have reiterated that position, they support a political settlement for us withdrawal, political dialogue and political settlement in afghanistan. the us position is unclear, but i think donald trump's basic position, democratic candidates basic position -- in afghanistan, the question is, now, let me suggest based on what i said, first of all, the united states is going to get out without the agreement reached last week it doesn't mean it will get out without an
agreement. first of all, the afghan government will have a capacity depending on the election, if the elections have a decisive results -- if they do, the afghan government will be in position to regain the initiative to some extent if it is willing to say, to acknowledge, that its future is not based on the long-term presence of the united states, we understand you are leaving, talk to us about how to leave. it could also say to the taliban and we are not asking of the united states to leave, what is your problem? in addition, the region still wants an agreement, a settlement based on withdrawal of us troops in a political
settlement. coming up on the un general assembly meeting, the us russia china consensus position developed over the past few months was to some extent based on work previously done by russia through the moscow process, the united states initially saw as a threat and opposed, but initially -- eventually participated in and it was absorbed into this process so us and russian special representatives were working together on this. there is no reason, the model for inter-afghan toxin that process was bringing the afghan government and the taliban together through the context of a regional meeting which other stakeholders would be represented as well, they control access to afghanistan.
obviously, it can't happen without the united states but there is no reason the regional process -- one thing this process has clarified is the taliban are willing to talk to the afghan government. they agreed to do it. arrangements for doing it were underway in norway. their condition was the us afghan bilateral agreement, but that inhibition, that prohibition has been broken. it is now not a question of if, but how and when. it may be that us talent and talks are not the right enabling environment. maybe regional talks or us
afghan bilateral or something we can't imagine which i found the most quickly apparent event in afghanistan. but i continue to think the present war is not sustainable. no one wants it and somehow we will find another way. >> thank you very much. we heard perspectives from afghanistan and the region and the us. and us policy. >> first to michael. if a deep desire for peace was what it took for there to be peace there would be a lot more people. i have no doubt there is a deep desire for peace, but you still
need political mechanisms to convert that desire for peace into action. and so the idea that there is going to be a current rising up from the bottom to bring peace is factually untrue. a policy recognition. for the united states there are three basic options. i might amend it, a fourth option. the three options are first of all the us can simply withdraw. if the us wants to withdraw, that is the policy choice the us makes, make a deal with taliban, it might still make a deal with the taliban to cover a way of ensuring safe passage on the way out the door but it
doesn't need the telegram to do it nor does it need an agreement with the afghan government to do it. that would be desirable. also, if the us decide simply to withdraw the counterterrorism involved to negotiate what they look like a recent chili -- those assurances are potentially meaningful as the taliban becomes part of the governance structure of afghanistan and interest in appearing to them and mechanisms for that. but otherwise those assurances. in my view, the policy option the us chose, the consequences for afghanistan would be
devastating. withdrawal -- i don't know, in 2020, no peace agreement left behind would need to intensify, wider support and not guaranteed. the second policy option continued and this is an option promoted in washington. often those promoting this option, united states can afford $35 billion, the actual numbers are disputed but the united states can afford to
keep several billion dollars a year, can afford sustaining 10008600 commercial drawdown troops, technically the monetary costs, those who promote this line. can afghanistan sustaining the cost in terms of afghan security forces. the capabilities of the security for an indefinite period of time and other human costs and the ways in which the concept is garnished and the possibility of that.
that scenario of keep doing what we're doing also ignores the political realities in the united states. i don't think that is invested over appear go of time which is not very long politically on the wall, political sustainability for much longer. the third option, trying to leave some political settlement connected to a us withdrawal and that means a process that is more or less like the process -- i can't speak to the
specific deal he negotiated and whether that is negotiated or not, a few specifics tell us about that. the idea, it starts negotiating with the afghan government, is theoretically possible but whether there would be incentive to negotiate us withdrawal on a timeline in terms is an open question. everyone in this room -- on
this panel at the table, the afghan government, the kind of peace process that thought to launch, a peace process and a cease-fire, a peace process and negotiation, involving the afghan government, the us and taliban, somewhere up front, guarantees the outcome will be such for women and minorities and others. the united states of america has been unable to deliver that.
and the united states of america continues to be unstable. it is important to remember what it is, it is as distasteful as it can be too many people. it was intended, and it will be the real people. so rather than criticize the deal that can be had. my recommendation would be to keep your eye on the prize, the inter-afghan negotiations will be the place where afghans contest a possibility of getting a kind of outcome they
prefer and compromises they deliver whether it is possible or not i don't know. the only realistic way forward. to close, i would say how do we move on from donald trump declaring that this process is first and foremost requires a decision by donald trump to declare the process funded and i think donald trump has shown himself to be, rephrasing decisions and declarations and moving on in the interests that he sees, political interests, desire to do so. i see no obstacles to donald trump declaring the process at least impressive.
>> it will require rebuilding the confidence in the regional countries, the us commitment to negotiating over the last year, admitting confidence the us was serious about peace negotiations and does some damage to that but not fatal damage but damage that probably easy as repaired by jolting the process back to life for electro-therapy as quickly as possible. the delay might be harder to do that. it is necessary to de-escalate the conflict dynamics in washington that have arisen
about this and i think about the deal of the criticisms that have arisen, requiring administration to be more forward in explaining the deal. a lot of it is the perception of the peace deal and didn't deliver enough and it would require more selling. and what it is. i would close by saying in response which i appreciated. and michael as well. it is important to bear in mind that peace negotiations are not
the same thing. many of the steps, peace in afghanistan. once you said a political foundation for that, will take a long time but not helpful to criticize for not delivering the long-term peace. >> thank you for all those comments and then waits until i call on you. the question is for shaharzad akbar if you want to comment.
some things you said, has alluded to divisions within the afghan political environment beyond the taliban and. filing agreements. there is a lot of support politically and geographically. the suggestion of fundamental leverage for negotiating with that. and it is always a competitive. what was the need and opportunity. the post election political environment. what will that impact on the
it will not be easy and there are divided opinions about predictions for having maximum size positions and there are some who believe having a government that mandates a mandate and that will be stronger question to the taliban and. and further, the attrition retesting apparently the 50. they should go forward but i think what we can learn from donald trump's announcement is
this process will be a long one. to get fully involved and in our government, to utilize -- the loss of one or other, and that will be the last call so shared interests and shared values. it will not be easy. i have my concerns but for instance, something on this course, for cohesion and having one strong voice and leadership
from all sides. >> sorry. >> over here, thank you very much. if you have questions about the importance of inclusivity of the peace process. both for our shared values as well as for the evidence we have around the sustainability and my question is what can civil society activists and organizations do globally to
support you and various afghan groups as you work to build that cohesion and prepare for the inter-afghan dialogue. >> thank you for the question. the women's movement and advocacy, how this can really have an impact. and more specifically the process. on the professional women's site. initially when the advocacy, the global alliance, many a woman worked on not having, not
being amplified or being less alone and marginalized. the response from organizations and individuals, for the importance of -- listening to aspirations for peace and also ensuring a wide variety of dyslexics has been encouraging and now, there are concerns about a future settlement government and the implications for women's rights. we feel we are not alone in
demanding protection of rights. i would say keep doing what you are doing. keep on the voice of human rights activists and reminding everyone including the taliban that you are not alone and aspirations for human rights are not aspirations that only the outcome will have to fight for. >> this gentleman here. >> i am the coo of shamrock radio television, retired army lieutenant colonel, 12 years in
afghanistan. one of a few tv stations that gets into tribal areas in pakistan. if the taliban owned the land, 50% of afghanistan is ruled by the taliban and. if you own the land you own the narrative. how are you going to get the taliban in those far remote regions feel empowered to lay down their arms, say to everyone there is peace on the horizon when they know time is on their side. >> i will turn to michael to answer that first. >> good question. i wanted to comment on the
military situation, we are all making the point, what the options are, ultimately what everybody is saying when there are successful afghan talks. the challenge is one of the right framework that will set conditions for those talks. one of the rules is the military. there has been a rounding of violence in the past year and the taliban will be hit hard as far as afghan government, pushing up asylum and certainly looks to be from the outside as if there has been an attempt to persuade, have to get serious on the negotiating table.
the impression i had and the lower ranks of the taliban and hit hard. and they are all losing, they are affecting the strategic calculations. at the leadership level to change the instructions in cutter so the taliban have a lot over there. the decisions being made in the districts of afghanistan, whether they are prepared to fight on or not, they are
affected, and the sacrifice they are making, talk about the sacrifices. they are respected or honored. and look closely to see what's going on because there is no single story. this idea that we get this idea the taliban have the time, afghanistan is dependence, withdrawal of the us financial lifeline and military security and the current set up could not survive that. on the other hand, plenty of parts of the country which i was observing quite clearly. the taliban military command found it tough to persuade the guys to fight.
and that is the period to be remembered at the time of the soviet withdrawal where try as i might, weren't able to up the ante to increase violence because people were opting out. combination of disaffection in the right and good statecraft, this is a local war, you can fill up your area, afghanistan, and that is one of the ways, one of the dynamics in the fighting in afghanistan. and one way -- how do you set the conditions for inter-afghan negotiations which do lead to a
compromised political settlement and turning the violence down, and i am not going to burn down our districts, and chased out the next day where we are. the more people are persuaded to take that decision, the more you set favorable conditions. we have documentary evidence that that is happening. >> others want to weigh in, i will give you a chance but i want to add my spin because the fundamental issue is there are different experiences in afghanistan, whatever the percentage is. as the conversation has been in washington, some have gained in
dealing with huge groups in afghanistan, dealing with families that -- complete exhaustion with the war impacting social cohesion and our ability to be reliant and impacting the future of every woman in afghanistan and the sense is here and also from what happened at the local level. maybe for leadership they think they have time on their side, people dying on a daily basis. that was several years ago.
make decisions about their lives so i think there might be a sense of being hit by the conflict. and that is the first step. they want more than security, to live life similar to people in other countries and have access to services they think they have got. >> a quick response to the narrower original question. how do you get far-flung taliban to lay down their arms if there is a peace deal? i think you can be confident the taliban leadership will not sign a deal they can't deliver
on, that their followers won't follow. they are very attentive to maintaining their cohesion and if they sign a deal that is going to divide the taliban and their followers follow, that would be devastating and they are not going to sign that deal. that is not a point of optimism because that is a reason why dealmaking is going to be very hard. they won't agree to a deal they don't think they can deliver on and sold to their rank-and-file. the second quick point, there will not be a piece enforcement mission. there will not be a scenario where a deal is signed and someone other than taliban leadership enforces it, it needs to be the taliban rank-and-file. the implementation will depend
on taliban leadership and forcing it. there won't be a un peacekeeping mission, won't have the united states and forcing the deal and the afghan government will be hard-pressed to enforce the deal in areas like you described. you can dispute the numbers but from a taliban perspective, no deal is preferable to a deal that splits the taliban and. >> the narrative that because the government is dependent on outside assistance, therefore outside assistance is taken away the taliban and will win. it is wrong and based on 0-sum thinking and also explains why the taliban are negotiated. and you know the taliban was not highly successful.
it is a legitimate government that receives foreign assistance and the term control, there are now, can't give you any numbers. and in the hands of the taliban and. schools, health clinics, and they are much harsher about teacher absenteeism. that is a coexistence already in place, you need to create the political conditions for the coexistence which will enable to expand their exercise their rights.
the critical juncture, taking this idea of afghanistan over it. the democratic ideals, for women's rights may fall back with the disengagement of the united states and afghanistan. can we say women are yet again at stake with the history of afghanistan? >> as mentioned before, i want to read one other question on that platform. it is not pakistan, what are the chances of supporting the taliban? the commentary suggests that.
starting to address those questions. >> they are all good questions. we don't have time to do them all justice. the one that was directed toward me, i think it is entirely understandable by women in afghanistan are concerned. completely understand that. the personal perspective, policy. from the perspective of analyzing what the us policy options are, what the us is likely to do. the united states did not engage afghanistan. number to the united states will not make a decision about its exit from afghanistan based
fundamentally on iterations regarding afghanistan. i'm not saying that is a policy proposal, recommendation which i'm stating it as a policy reality in the united states. there will be many here who will desire to minimize the impact on afghan women, preserve the protections for afghan women. that at the end of the day the decision-making will be fundamentally about other issues related to the security of the united states, and not considerations for women. i don't have time to address sean's comments but a question i will address briefly, a difficult question to answer because both sides, particularly the taliban are not going to this negotiation if this negotiation already develops platforms. unlike other piece processes around the world.
the zone of the possible is going to have to emerge as negotiations develop and the position has developed. the chances that pakistan stopping, well. i think the more important point is if the united states withdraws from afghanistan, starts to withdraw, the chances of pakistan ramping up its relationship with the taliban. >> laura bush never gave such a speech before 9/11. if the united states were going to invade afghanistan deliberate afghan women it had many opportunities to do so but they didn't do so, that speech was to legitimize something
that took place for other reasons. that basic reality is still real. >> on the question of what the taliban leadership would sign off on, i think nobody knows. we seem to be close to getting to that but we don't know the considerations. prime consideration for leadership maintaining the movements. they also want to protect themselves as being on course to the establishment for something like that and whatever deal they want to do they want to project themselves on course to a full withdrawal of us forces as we think they seem to have most concern but one of the problems, worried
about the question, that negotiations are negotiated but are not the whole thing. i suspect in afghanistan, the conditions for the negotiated outcome is -- now is a good time for everybody to reflect on what options there are. for example, the existence of a zone inside afghanistan where the war has moved on. there are taliban controlled areas that have been developed. that too is reminiscent of the post-1989. go. people are trying to move forward now, should be looking at what can be done with a set of conditions without assuming
within one or 2 months can jump straight to the negotiated solution or if they are not going to jump quickly but are still important things which can be done to alter the dynamics. but progress towards those conditions that are safe for the us to withdraw. >> one more round of questions. >> i'm with the inspector general. how will holding or not holding the upcoming afghan presidential election change the dynamics of political positioning, the potential inter-afghan dialogue if there is going to be one? >> the gentleman in the white
shirt. >> with everything happening with the camp david cancellation, the agreement dumped on the administration, the fallout with mostly the press and the international community is focused on but a few other crosses to bear, your reflection, one, mike pompeo said he wouldn't sign the agreement a few days before, the taliban has not agreed to meet with the government, they have done so and are about to do so. the taliban also indicates the first time in the last round and not end the violence and we have a situation where trump needs a deal to be reelected,
just got rid of bolton so things are a little more conducive with that respect but my question is the elections. of the taliban, especially in light of what you are saying about the important iterations from lower courts, we all know these happen in afghanistan and increase in the run-up. will that not be crosscutting? how will that play? >> one more. >> my question -- pakistan -- about pakistan and the peace process. pakistan and the fundamental problem in pakistan.
be more attention. i think, i mean, i listened -- was like slapping on the wrist. i mean, i was saying the war fatigue isn't a strategy. it's not sufficient but it's an important ingredient with the right policy from an institution is something which can be exploited. when pro-afghan sentiment inside the ranks of the taliban, when that is capitalized on in ways reminiscent of what happened in the time -- wraps pilot levels will come down. over the past year we have seen an attempt to capitalize on the cohesiveness of the movement, of
the strategic decisions making the why strategic decision from the taliban leadership to embrace peace on a compromise settlement and we will gamble on that. now, it hasn't happened yet and maybe they will do it and that the test what you hope they will be subjected to again and again, but the more they are forced to worry that our ranks, the people who kept the fighting going, the people who give us our leverage, that there started to opt out, that they're going to go cool on the war. the more they worry about that, the more the chapter actually conditions are set and actually embrace a compromise solution for the negotiating table that so far has been elusive. >> the main variable about the elections will affect the processes, not taliban violence. a taliban never gave any indication that they would reduce violent if the elections were postponed or canceled. that's the reasons we were having the elections.
and in the past it has not been decisive victor question about the elections is there may be voting but will there be an election works that is, if the voting leads to a relatively quick choice of a president, which is accepted by the major non-taliban political forces in the country, then it will strengthen the government as president ghani envisions. but that is up in history of election come presidential elections in afghanistan thus far. if the election is contested, there are charges of corruption and it is not accepted by major political forces, then there could be a relatively long, several months of contestation, perhaps demands for for a secod round which the government may or may not accept, in which case the divisions within the
coalition opposing the taliban, the constitutional coalition, will become stronger. a lot depends on the outcome and conduct of the elections. as far as pakistan is concerned, i think pakistan remains pakistan, and it is not going to change into another country that does not have antagonism with india or problems with afghanistan. afghanistan remains landlocked and afghanistan cannot of the future that is based on strategic antagonism with pakistan. so somehow or other, hopefully for regional cooperation, involving a third parties, notably china, because china is there probably unlike the united states. afghanistan and china, afghanistan and pakistan will find a way of living with the differences but it will not be because pakistan has transformed into a country that does not have any with afghanistan. >> i fully agree with those
calmest. i'm not at all dismissive of the problem. the problems that are raised by the interests of pakistan proceed and afghanistan. i am dismissive of the idea all it takes is for the united states to say no, or to impose some sanctions on pakistan, the fat will fundamentally change their strategic calculation. the question of whether secretary pompeo website or not, i think the story was mischaracterized and got out of control -- would sign or not -- it was not he wasn't going to sign off on the deal. it was there were questions as to the formalities of who would be signing on behalf of the united states, and it's more than formalities. it's also symbolism. if i were in the state department i would recommend secretary pompeo not sign the deal. i don't think this is an
agreement that should be sign at the level of secretary of state. that would only be another feather in the cap for the taliban, to have a podium like this are secretary pompeo is sitting next to whoever. this is an agreement that should be site anymore low key way by the envoy who negotiated. i don't think there is a substantive issue there. >> thank you. i'm sorry we lost you. i'm glad you are back. i don't know if you heard the question. they were more about elections, but in pakistan. why don't we just give you a minute as we close for any final thoughts. >> thank you. i think there is some development -- [inaudible] and i think the main importance is for the afghan, especially
the taliban. [inaudible] if they are scared about engaging with majority of afghans they need to reevaluate that approach and they need to, especially reevaluate their engagement with -- [inaudible] >> thank you very much. please join me in thanking this great panel for a deep discussion on afghanistan peace process. [applause] >> let me close eye saying that one sign of progress is that we can have nearly continuous to our video link with somebody with high quality in afghanistan, , so things are improving. thanks very much, shaharzad for staying up late talking to us. finally the conversation continues on afghanistan next
thursday from 11 to 12:30 p.m. we will host the launch of new lessons learned report on reintegration of taliban fighters, what happened in the past. this will be hopefully useful lessons for the future because there they will be fighters to integrate. with that thank you very much for joining us and see you at the next one. [applause] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
senator mcconnell. he's been very clear. he's not doing anything the president doesn't want. and so that's where we are. so i don't know why a leader in the senate would advocate his responsibilities, we can the institution in which he leads because a president doesn't what it. >> and it a go with house speaker nancy pelosi. watch it now online at c-span.org or at 8 p.m. eastern tonight on c-span. >> in his new book talking to strangers, malcolm gladwell details why he thinks people make inaccurate judgments about people they don't know. >> you can step out now. >> i don't want to step out. >> step out of the car. i'm going to drag you. >> you're going to drag me out of my own car. >> she's imprisoned because for resisting arrest and then two days later she hangs herself in her cell.
you know, a tragic and unexpected result. but the whole, that exchange that we suck in which by the way goes on and on and on and on, we saw a small snippet of it, is, that was the kind of come when i first saw that online, that's when i realize what it wanted to write about. because if you break that exchange down moment by moment you see multiple failures of understanding of empathy, of 1 million things. >> sunday night at eight eastern on c-span's q&a. >> monday night on "the communicators," california representative jerry mcnerney cochair of the artificial intelligence caucus on the future artificial intelligence, election security, and whether big tech companies need more regulation. >> google is a california-based company and i think if you want
to look at how it's doing this business practices, it's important to do it in a very thoughtful way. i know that the department of justice and the federal trade commission are also talking about doing investigations in anti-competitive practices of these companies. and it's good to look at this and investigated and make sure companies are taking, i'm not sure the breaking companies up is a good idea. these are big companies with a lot of tentacles, a lot of employees. if you break a company like that of, if you manage to do, the will be unintended consequences. >> monday at 8:30 p.m. eastern on c-span2. >> now the senate armed services committee considers the nominations of ryan mccarthy today, , army secretary and barbara barrett to become air force secretary.