Tags: Afghanistan | America's Forum | Barack Obama | Afghan | Afghanistan | Barack Obama | Abdullah Sharif

Ex-US Diplomat: Make Afghanistan 'Step Up to the Plate'

By    |   Friday, 20 March 2015 12:16 PM

The biggest challenge facing Afghanistan today is the issue of "institutional reform," according to Abdullah Sharif, a former U.S. diplomat in Afghanistan.

"Institutional reform not only relative to the military and security forces, but institutional reform as a whole," Sharif, author of "Sardar: From Afghanistan's Golden Age to Carnage" explained during an appearance Friday on "America’s Forum" on Newsmax TV.

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"Afghanistan needs to have a political correction for it to be able to move forward."

Though America has paid a heavy price in terms of both "treasure and blood" in Afghanistan with little to show for it, Sharif said that if the U.S. pulls out, Afghanistan will become another failed state.

"In light of what's going on in the Middle East and elsewhere, that is going to be a very dangerous situation for other extremist groups to come and cause lots of problems not only for the United States and its interests in the region, but around the globe," he said.

A senior U.S. military official said this week that the Obama administration is considering slowing the withdrawal from Afghanistan to help the new government fight the Taliban.

The Afghans need to be pressed to take more responsibility in the region, he said.

"The thing that I'd like to emphasize, is that this is a fight that is not only ours, but it's Afghans," Sharif said. "They need to step up to the plate and demonstrate a plan that they can actually do the fighting themselves not only in terms of going after the Taliban insurgency but also in terms of these reforms, these political reforms that are essential for a future secure Afghanistan."

It’s true that Afghans subscribe to a tribal culture, but if there is "a legitimate government," the tribes will go along, according to Sharif, who noted that was the case from 1930 until about 1978.

"These tribes existed, the ethnic groups existed, but Afghanistan was a viable nation state," he said. "That is the lesson for everybody to really learn and that's the model we should go back and look at and see why it worked then and it's not working now. And, unfortunately, the current Afghan government has been taken over by very bad people, warlords who are very predatory, who perpetuate this culture of impunity and corruption."

The way to force the Afghans to take a more dominant role, Sharif said, is to tell them the U.S. will stick with them only if they start to make measurable reforms.

"At least show us a plan and show us some milestones that are necessary," he said.

"Otherwise, our continued effort and sacrifice in Afghanistan will not really achieve a whole lot."

If after two or three years the new government has not made any progress, the U.S. should pull out.

"If we make that point that will force the Afghans to think twice and then make sure that we do these reforms that are necessary for a future secure Afghanistan," he said. "The thing we have to remember is that Afghanistan is not going to be what Afghanistan was during the reign of King Zahir Shah. What they can hope for is to build a solid foundation" to rebuild the country.

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The biggest challenge facing Afghanistan today is the issue of "institutional reform," according to Abdullah Sharif, a former U.S. diplomat in Afghanistan.
Afghan, Afghanistan, Barack Obama, Abdullah Sharif
Friday, 20 March 2015 12:16 PM
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