Progress | Centre-left Labour politics

Afghan strategy, no strategy

Just a day after Remembrance Sunday this year, a British serviceman was shot and killed in southern Afghanistan by a member of the Afghan National Army. We are once again reminded of the war Britain has been engaged in for more than a decade.

Recent insider attacks on the British and other allied forces by members of the Afghan security forces are a worrying illustration of how far and deep the Taliban have infiltrated into the heart of the corruption-ridden Afghan government under Hamid Karzai, Nato and ISAF’s watch. Many inside and outside Afghanistan fear the situation will only get worse.

Since coming to power, the coalition’s strategy on Afghanistan has been a non-strategy. The only thing we all know is that there is a timetable for the British forces to end their combat operations and leave the country before the end of the year 2014. This has not only confused the Afghan people, but also given hope to the Taliban.

Over the last few years, only one politician – a Labour politician – in this country has spoken, written a warned of the lack of a proper strategy, than the No 10 and FCO put together. David Miliband has on numerous occasions warned policymakers in the UK and abroad for the lack of an ‘endgame’ strategy. In his recent appearance on BBC Question Time, he once again warned that Afghanistan is becoming a ‘forgotten war’. Miliband has proved his depth of knowledge and understanding about the multidimensional nature of the conflict in Afghanistan. Tackling corruption and improving governance, as I have previously emphasised, is only part of the solution to this enduring conflict.

As Britain’s former foreign secretary, Miliband knows only too well that, in order to bring resolution to the situation, it is critical that the British government uses its influence on Pakistan to stop that country’s ISI supporting the Taliban, and make clear that a stable and peaceful Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s national interest. Britain must work with others involved in Afghanistan to bring about a political settlement there. All ethnic groups must be involved in reshaping the future of Afghanistan beyond 2014. Taliban must be made aware that the progress made, at great cost, over the last decade are irreversible. They can only have a future in Afghanistan if they cut ties with Al-Qaeda, reform their views on women’s rights, education, ethnic and religious minorities.

The lack of an endgame strategy from Britain, the US and their allies, have already had drastic effects on the country. Many of the former mujahideen commanders opposing the Taliban have started preparing for a possible civil war once the allied forces have left the country by the end of 2014. It is, therefore, for this government to listen to Miliband, take leadership and campaign to achieve the much-needed political settlement to end the war in Afghanistan. Britain must not let down the servicemen and women who have paid the ultimate price for peace and justice.


Rohullah Yakobi is a Labour party and Movement for Change activist, tweeting @kohnadeh


Photo: Carl Montgomery

Progressive centre-ground Labour politics does not come for free.

It takes time, commitment and money to build a fight against the forces of conservatism. If you value the work Progress does, please support us by becoming a member, subscriber or donating.

Our work depends on you.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Rohullah Yakobi

is a member of Progress


  • I would rather we had not gone in .But if we had not Rohulla and many more of his people the Hazara would probably be dead as the Talaban had murdered tens of thousands of them and destroyed their ancient wondrous Budhist statues .
    I have always maintained having gone in we should use all our influence to keep the Americans there as they asked us to go in with them ;and also stay ourselves until the job is done .It will cost less lives in the long term .
    We must get Pakistan and other countries in the region on side as it is in the interest s of them all to have a more civilised government in power than the Talaban ..

Sign up to our daily roundup email