Talking to the Taliban: Will it Ensure 'Peace' in Afghanistan?

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  • March 2009

    The raging Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan underlines the limits of the use of military force. The lack of visible progress on the reconstruction activity and prevailing insecurity has alienated the Afghan populace in the remote villages of South and East Afghanistan. Given that the military option alone has limited utility in Counter-insurgency (COIN), there is a need to exercise an 'out-of-the-box' option to address the present stalemate. After all, effective COIN calls for optimal utilization of military and non-military means and long-term solutions are found in the political domain. In light of the present deteriorating security situation, it would be useful to examine whether exercising the option of negotiations and political reconciliation with the Taliban is a viable COIN strategy in Afghanistan. Will such measures help erode the support base for the Taliban leadership? Importantly, would such steps lead to durable 'peace' in Afghanistan?