The Afghan government must negotiate peace with the Taliban to prevent progress in the country from unraveling after the withdrawal of foreign troops at the end of 2014, a panel of U.K. lawmakers said.
The cross-party House of Commons Defence Committee said today Prime Minister David Cameron’s government has a responsibility to use its influence to “make a post-2014 Afghanistan work.” It warned that a lack of progress in reducing violence “does not augur well for improving security and economic development on a long-term sustainable basis.”
In a report published in London today, the panel said both the Afghan government and the Taliban “have to give ground” in negotiations. It stressed there must be “free and fair elections” and that women should be involved in the peace process to make sure it doesn’t unravel.
“We have received starkly opposing predictions for Afghanistan’s outlook post 2014,” the committee’s chairman, James Arbuthnot from Cameron’s Conservative Party, said in an e-mailed statement. “The fact is that the U.K. has limited influence. Indeed, it is for the Afghan people themselves to determine their own future.”
The panel pointed to other countries in the region as important for bringing about security in Afghanistan, such as Pakistan, China, India and Iran.
“I welcome the publication of this report, which shares our vision of an Afghanistan that can maintain its own security and never again be a safe haven for international terrorism,” Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said in an e-mailed statement. “The fact that Afghan security forces are now leading on more than 80 percent of all security operations across the country shows we are well on the way to achieving that aim.”