Your cover story on the impending NATO troops withdrawal from Afghanistan presented a very balanced analysis on the subject. As the deadline draws closer, a range of tactics are being exercised by the international community to aid Afghan stability. These range from presenting socio-economic proposals, conducting military trainings, holding regional conferences and bolstering Afghan civil society actors to take the lead in the election process. While the country and the many regional actors involved in the conflict face innumerable challenges, there is much cause for optimism. The desire for democracy is in the fore and it is unlikely that President Karzai will return to politics. Furthermore, the heightened and unwavering attention of the world on the Afghan future has allowed civil society actors to make their voices heard in the global community and ask for a new kind of support from international human rights agencies, social development organizations and women’s rights groups.
A strong rejection of terrorism and the blatant public dismissal of wanting to return to Taliban rule, has earned the Afghan people much needed sup- port, which has put in place measures and structures to bolster civil society and isolate extremist influences. How long these structures will hold, remains uncertain. However, analysts argue that the Afghan Taliban and AlQaeda leadership is disconnected and is sporadic at best. A further dismemberment of such factions coupled with a strong, progressive civil society supported by the international community, in terms of physical and monetary support, can turn around Afghanistan’s fate in a way never seen before. Mariam Sarmad Khan