The year 2014 is an important deadline in the partnership between Afghanistan and its international allies that have been actively helping the country politically, militarily and financially since 2001. A decade has elapsed and Afghanistan is yet to meet the expectations of its people or even address the basic problem of security. Now international partners of Afghanistan continue to state that their cooperation would continue beyond 2014, which is said to be the end of the process for Afghan national security to take the lead in security throughout the country. This is an upbeat commitment that we often hear from the officials from ally countries as Estonia's Defense Minister Mart Laar, during his visit to southern province of Helmand, said his country would continue to cooperate with Afghanistan beyond 2014, when the security transition process is scheduled to be completed.
In Kabul on Thursday, British, Danish and Estonian defense ministers addressed a joint press conference, reaffirming their countries' long-term commitment to training Afghan forces beyond 2014. It is good to hear all these promises but it is important to know which direction Afghanistan will have gone by 2014. It is the government of Afghanistan led by President Hamid Karzai that has to choose the direction to move the country forward. Unfortunately, President Karzai seems to be too perplexed to figure it out. By stubbornly pursuing the ineffective one-sided peace process, the government is causing further cleavages among the political groups in the country that continue to fall victim to the obstinately continued violence by the Taliban militants and like minded groups. This could lead to another round of political instability if the government really does not take a tougher approach towards the barbarous enemy.
On Wednesday last week, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told his country's lawmakers, "These projections assume that the number of troops in Afghanistan will be significantly reduced by the end of 2014 in accordance with the president's and NATO's strategy." The ostensibly firm decision of withdrawal has given rise to concern among political observers and analysts given the ongoing deteriorating security situation and the weaknesses of Afghan national security forces in terms of quality. However, the major concern stems from the confusion of and one-sided approach by the government towards the so-called reconciliation with the insurgents and terrorists.