ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Afghanistan: Which Way Now?

Hamid Karzai now has a second term as president, but the country is as far away as ever from peace.

Afghanistan today is a site where several momentous decisions are being played out involving numerous actors, each seemingly less able than the other of dealing with these historic burdens of choice.

Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, had the choice between putting his seven-year record in power to an authentic popular test, and remaining in power as a figurehead for a confederacy of warlords who managed to make the Taliban look attractive when earlier they fought bitterly for power. For the United States (US), which is currently in the throes of deep internal turmoil over healthcare, a burgeoning deficit and a seemingly jobless economic recovery, the choice was between nearly doubling its troop presence in Afghanistan just to make life more secure for the many who are already there, and accepting that its civilisational mission, doomed from the moment it was launched, needed serious rethink. For the United Nations (UN) and other multilateral agencies, the challenge was to ensure that the institutions built up with significant aid inputs would meet the test of free and fair elections and establish their credibility with the larger Afghan public. Every actor’s choice was contingent on the other’s. And as things have turned out, all have seemingly opted for what ultimately would do them least credit.

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