Washington: Noting that a conflict like
the one in Afghanistan will end up with reconciliation, US
Defence Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday said that any such effort
has to be on the terms of the local government and consistent
with the country's constitution.
In an interview to the Fox News network, Gates said
President Hamid Karzai is putting together his own plans on
"We've been talking with him about it. That always
ends up being a part of the end of a conflict like this," he
"But the key is, it seems to me, is that that
reconciliation has to be on the terms of the Afghan government
and consistent with the Afghan constitution," Gates said and
acknowledged that for the US there is difference between
reintegration and reconciliation.
While the US has supported reintegration, so far it
has expressed serious reservations with regard to
reconciliation with the Taliban leadership.
"We think a lot of the Taliban participate because
they are paid, others because they or their families are
And so we think that as the momentum begins to shift
in this conflict in the direction of the Afghan government and
the coalition that's in there helping them, we think there's a
chance that a substantial number of these lower-level Taliban
will be willing to put down their weapons and rejoin Afghan
society," Gates said.
Gates said: "We have to do two things, though. We have
to create the conditions, in which they can have a job, and we
have to provide the security to protect them and their
families because one of the things the Taliban does, when some
of these people do cross back over, is kill them and their
"So we have to provide them with the security so they
know that won't happen," Gates said.
In terms of reintegration, Gates said progress is
"On a very small scale so far. The key -- the first
thing that has to be done is to reverse the momentum of the
Taliban," said the Secretary of Defence.
In response to a question, Gates disagreed with the
notion of comparing US with that of Russian invasion.
"I think this is one of those cases where history is
just completely misread. First of all, the Soviet Union
invaded Afghanistan. They killed a million people. They forced
five million to flee as refugees. They conducted a war of
terror against them.
"We're in a completely different position. We've been
invited in by the Afghans. Our presence there has been
sanctioned by both the UN and NATO. We have 44 nations that
are contributing troops, the heart of it being NATO but a lot
of non-NATO partners. And we are partners with the Afghan
people," he said.
First Published: Tuesday, February 09, 2010, 23:44