The legitimate grievances of the Afghan people are successfully maximised by the Taliban in their propaganda campaign. Critically, this could allow the Taliban to progressively become a legitimate political movement in the southern part of the country. The United Kingdom and the international community risk losing what has been achieved so far in Afghanistan.
Decades of internal fighting and foreign intervention have disrupted the rule of law and allowed for illegal activities and corruption to flourish. At present, the reality in Afghanistan is that of three interacting crises – security, poverty and narcotics. Peace and stability in Afghanistan will not be achieved by military means alone. Lagging development, a booming illegal drugs trade, widespread corruption and the steady increase in civilian casualties are challenges that the UK is called upon to urgently address. Public resentment towards the Karzai Government and international forces are on the rise, with violence now spreading across Afghanistan’s relatively secure areas and the capital Kabul.
The British presence in Afghanistan is under threat. To gain the trust and support of the local population and achieve its mission in the country, the UK must define a new coherent strategic course. Without a clear articulation of well-defined objectives and course of action, the UK will fail Afghanistan and the British public back home.