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Regional peace councillor assassinated by suicide attack in eastern Afghanistan

April 7, 2012

Another demonstration, if more were needed, that the insurgency is continuing to ramp up its attacks against key Afghan “soft” targets.  Obviously it will remain important for the Taliban to show that it can still kill ISAF soldiers, but I don’t feel that ISAF is going to be coming out to play as much as it has done in the past during this fighting season.  The sense now seems to be that of attacking, undermining and weakening the Afghan infrastructure in at least three ways:

1. local governance generally,
2. the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF)
3. and the reconciliation and reintegration processes specifically.

And it will be easier – and increasingly more important – to target the already flawed and shaky Afghan government system as it is trying to prepare itself for transition than to take the fight to ISAF, whose mission is to make itself irrelevant..

Full marks to Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt for pointing out the pointlessness of the expression “end game” (a term I think even Ahmed Rashid has been guilty of using).

“On a recent visit to Afghanistan and Pakistan, I could not fail to notice the increasingly frequent international calls for an “endgame” in Afghanistan. But an endgame for that country is a dangerous illusion: the game will not end, and neither will history.  The only thing that could come to an end is the world’s attention and engagement in Afghanistan, which could well lead to catastrophic consequences.”

The country, its neighbours and the many problems will remain in place regardless of the western “rush for the exit” and as perhaps a more important statement of this, he was in Afghanistan last week opening up the new Swedish embassy.

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