The explosion that rocked Kabul on 1st June, inside the secure diplomatic area of the city, was the deadliest since the American-led invasion in 2001. Its purpose: to sow a sense of living on the brink of disaster.
The security situation following the departure of most western troops in 2014 has deteriorated: a resurgent Taliban currently controls swathes of the country and the threat from Daesh (Islamic State) fighters is constant.
13,000 NATO troops – including 8,000 U.S. soldiers – remain. The Western presence has proved incapable of supporting peace, yet withdrawing more troops may be disastrous in both strategic and humanitarian terms. Angela Merkel stresses that terrorism in one place targets us all. ‘We can’t afford to see Afghanistan lost’ is a mantra but also a conundrum.
President Ashraf Ghani worries that there are too many international initiatives, not too few – that they lack clarity, that the integrity of an Afghan-led consolidated process has to be respected. Can one fight and reform at the same time? Can Afghanistan’s mineral wealth provide the basis for sovereignty and a functioning state?
Days later the streets and restaurants of Kabul are again full with families, demonstrating the resilience that we take for granted. But for how long?
Join our A-team on Afghanistan, on October 2nd, for individual presentations followed by a general discussion:
Hamid Karzai served as President of Afghanistan for almost ten years, from 2004 to 2014.
Zalmay Khalilzad is the former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, and the United Nations.
Christina Lamb is Britain’s most distinguished foreign reporter, currently Foreign Affairs Correspondent for the Sunday Times.
Yalda Hakim, whose family fled Afghanistan when she was an infant, is an Australian broadcast journalist with BBC World News.