12 December, 2006

Afghan Reconciliation Action Plan.

To mark Human Rights Day, President Karzai of Afghanistan, in conjunction with the UN envoy has launched a Reconciliation Action Plan. As Reuters puts it, the plan is "an effort to bring justice to tens of thousands of victims of decades of civil war and internal strife in post-Taliban Afghanistan."

The plan's five key elements are:
  • acknowledgment of the suffering of the Afghan people;
  • strengthening state institutions;
  • finding out the truth about the country's bloody past;
  • promoting reconciliation;
  • and establishing a proper accountability mechanism.
Not surprisingly with so much peace and reconciliation in the air, the Human Rights industry sees great opportunities. Soon, hordes of the not so great and the no good will be spreading throughout Afghanistan in their four wheel drives, bringing the UN's traditional gifts of inaction disguised as observation.

Of course the obvious problem is that any reconciliation plan requires an end to hostilities with the Taliban, a development which seems some way off. There is no evidence that the Taliban are interested in reconciliation, at least while they feel secure in their safe bases in Pakistan. Moreover, as Crumbling Spires has noted previously, talk from Kabul of "strengthening state institutions" is unlikely to go down well with the village elders, who are the real locus of power in the majority of Afghanistan outside Kabul.

In the long term, the best hope for Afghanistan is probably to forget any ideas of settling old scores, even if dressed up as an accountability mechanism, and instead focus on constructing a workable deal at the forth coming Grand Jirga.

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