NATO Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan, Stefano Pontecorvo, said on Friday that the future of Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) will be one of the most pressing issues in the peace negotiations with the Taliban, suggesting that there is a need for more inclusive talks in this regard.
Speaking at an event organized by the Institute of War and Peace Studies (IWPS) titled “From Combatants to Peace Builders Series – The Future of ANDSF and Prospect for Integration of Taliban Fighters and Commanders into ANDSF,” the NATO envoy said there is a need for inclusion of Afghan women’s views in the peace process.
“Afghans will only feel secure when they are responsible for their own security,” Pontecorvo said. “Regional actors should also recognize that the region will be more secure if post-peace security structures are determined by the Afghans in the negotiating table.”
He also said that “capable Afghan security forces give republic leaders the confidence to negotiate in the political space to maneuver at the negotiating table.”
Panelists at the event commended the Afghan forces for their capabilities in the fight against terrorism but added that the security force members are faced with lack of equipment.
The ANDSF members have got extraordinary potential in terms of leading the war, said David Sedney, President of the American University of Afghanistan, adding that they are coping with a lack of equipment, training and logistical resources.
“The question is do the Taliban want peace? Because a lot of the questions that you raised and a lot of issues that ambassador Pontecorvo raised can only be answered if in fact the Taliban want peace,” he said.
The panelists also exchanged views on the disarmament processes in various countries, particularly in Afghanistan.
“There is very limited evidence across Afghan experience but also across global post-conflict contexts about DDR, demobilization, reintegration, actually working according to the current models that have been followed. In fact, there is more evidence of these programs that failed to achieve those objectives,” said Ashley Jackson, Research Associate and Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Armed Groups at ODI.
Recently, a Taliban spokesman said the issue—of disarming or reintegration—of their fighters will be discussed in the negotiating table.
“For Afghanistan, historically the state income or lack of it has been important for stability,” said Nemat Bezhan, a university lecturer in Australia.
He suggested that there is a need to focus on the country’s needs to fill the gap that will be left by the American troops.