With the West tiring nine years after Sept. 11, Afghanistan and Pakistan will continue to deteriorate until there is an acceptance by the US, NATO and all the neighboring states to support negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Karzai is keen to gain international support for such talks, which he has already secretly continued for nearly a year in venues such as Dubai and Saudi Arabia. The Taliban have privately said they want to talk directly to the Americans and NATO.
The US demands that the Taliban must cut off all ties with al-Qaida and militarily be beaten into a state of submission before such talks begin are looking more and more impossible to achieve. Other insurgencies have ended by talking and fighting at the same time. But the conditions the West would like to impose on the Taliban can only be done through dialogue. Sharing power with the Taliban is not the best of solutions, especially for the Afghan people, but it is the only realistic option if the West starts withdrawing its troops and Afghanistan remains a weak and fractured nation with rapacious neighbors.
Pakistani journalist and book author Ahmed Rashid is one of the most knowledgeable experts on the region. He wrote a world-renowned book about the Taliban and recently published "Descent Into Chaos: How the war against Islamic extremism is being lost in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia."