The U.S. has stepped up the military tempo in Afghanistan and the advances by its proxy fighters, the Northern Alliance, have been striking. Now is the time to accelerate efforts to agree on the makeup of a post-Taliban regime.
The military and political track are closely linked. Afghanistan is a failed state, divided on ethnic lines and vulnerable to meddling from outside powers. In the absence of a political settlement, the country will revert to chaos and civil war.
The United Nations can help to broker such an agreement. ... The Alliance should realize that defeat of the Taliban does not signal an outright victory for them. The Pashtuns must be included in numbers if a new regime is to have a chance of survival.
No one should be under any illusions. Any government in Kabul will be notional. Most of the power will remain in the hands of regional warlords. ... The UN should focus on three priorities. It should prepare to set up protectorates in the major cities. ... (and) provide a future peacekeeping force to assure minimum law and order. A Western-led force would offend Muslim sensitivities. Turkey and other ''neutral'' countries could play a constructive role on the ground.
The third priority is to bridge divisions inside the ''six-plus-two'' talks involving Afghanistan's six neighbors, plus Russia and the U.S.
-- Financial Times, London
The United Nations must insist on the next constitution in Afghanistan taking into consideration the country's multiethnic character and that it also becomes democratic, not only according to the principle one man, one vote. In a country that lacks a working state, the U.N. must take on the central function for a transitional period and assist both the administration and the police. The U.N. must also contribute to the writing of history, cruelty for cruelty. This is a long process, which we know from the breaking up of Yugoslavia.
It is possible to see a new dawn for Afghanistan. The hope for a better future is growing. But the Taliban are not disarmed and Osama bin Laden is not arrested. The network has not been crushed. The terrorists are not defeated. The battle against terrorism does not end at the borders of Afghanistan. But of course, it feels as if the first military stage so far is a success.
-- Dagens Nyheter, Stockholm, Sweden
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