US 'must back Afghan political strategy'
30 August 2012
Politicians in the West risk 'betraying' the military gains made by coalition forces in Afghanistan if they do not create an inclusive political strategy for the country, the UK's former special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan has warned.
Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, said that since al-Qaida had been effectively removed from Afghanistan, there had been a lack of "political stamina" and resources provided by Western powers in order to "finish the job properly".
"What we are doing essentially is cultivating an allotment in a jungle, and the question is: what happens when the gardeners leave," Sir Sherard told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
"…I'm not saying we've betrayed our troops, but I'm saying we are in danger of betraying their legacy, betraying their courage, unless the politicians and the diplomats do their job, which is to broker a serious solution inside Afghanistan and involving all the countries of the region,; above all, Pakistan.
"What is lacking has been the political will in Washington, because of the American political system, to deliver this with the energy and leadership that only America can bring to this."
Cowper-Coles called for a "double decker" political strategy involving all parties inside Afghanistan as well as all "regional parties" with interests in the country.
"The problem lies in Washington; there is an American presidential election under way, there are no votes in being portrayed as talking to the Taliban," he said.
He added that it was important that Pakistan be "enlisted as a legitimate stakeholder" in creating a political solution in Afghanistan.