A high-level international conference on Afghanistan opened in Tashkent on March 26, even as Kabul is still recovering from an Islamic State (IS) led terror attack that killed 32 people in the capital on March 21. Just two days later, a car bomb in Helmand killed 14 innocents. The death toll increases in Afghanistan and, alas, occurs so often that it is often ignored in the global news cycles.
Tashkent will see all the major powers and the UN on board and India will be represented by the minister of state for external affairs, MJ Akbar. The conference opens against a backdrop of complex challenges that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has to deal with on the domestic front, including a deteriorating internal security situation. In the end of January, the local Taliban carried out a heinous terror attack in Kabul using an ambulance bomb that killed more than a hundred innocent victims. Clearly, the Afghan security forces are unable to cope with the twin challenge posed by the Taliban and now the IS cadres.
The Ghani-led National Unity Government (NUG) has morphed into a disunity government, given the irreconcilable differences over power-sharing between President Ghani and chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah. This political dissonance is at the core of the fractured governance that plagues Afghanistan and it is unlikely that the Tashkent deliberations will be able to redress this fatal internal flaw.
Concurrently, the Afghan quagmire has been rendered even more intractable by the defiant assertion of the Taliban and the violence they have unleashed over the last 15 years – ever since the US, in a very ill-advised decision, shifted its focus from the stabilisation and reconstruction of Afghanistan to Iraq on March 19, 2003.