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Table of Contents

Executive Summary *

The White Paper Process *

Introduction *

I. The Importance of Afghanistan Today *

U.S. Objectives *

II. Politics in Afghanistan Today: A Brief Review *

III. Forging a Peace in Afghanistan *

Option One: Limited U.S. Involvement *

Option Two: Increased Engagement of the Taliban *

Option Three: Weaken and Transform the Taliban *

Recommended Policy: Transform then Engage *

IV. Pursuing a Regional Accommodation *

Diplomatic efforts: Pakistan *

Diplomatic efforts: Iran *

Diplomatic Efforts: The International Community *

Diplomatic Efforts: Other Key States *

V. Steps to Take at Home *

Appendix A. A Chronology of Recent Afghan History *

Appendix B. Major Factions in Afghanistan *

Appendix C. Managing the Transition *

Appendix D. Biographies of Authors *

Appendix E. About the Afghanistan Foundation *

Afghanistan Foundation ã 1999

Executive Summary

Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has consistently underestimated its interests in Afghanistan, allowing terrorism, the oppression of women, narcotics trafficking, discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities, and other problems to fester. Even though the August 1998 cruise missile strikes against Usama bin-Laden brought home the frightening possibility that Afghanistan is becoming another rogue state, a gap remains between the level of U.S. interests in the region and our level of engagement. To protect its interests, the United States must develop a coherent, effective, and sustainable policy to reduce the problems in Afghanistan and in the region as a whole.

Afghanistan and its neighbors are important to the United States for many reasons. Afghanistan is a haven for terrorists and extremists dedicated to fighting the United States and creating instability among such important allies as Saudi Arabia. Afghanistan also is the world’s second largest producer of opium. Washington also has humanitarian interests in Afghanistan: over two million Afghans are refugees, and the dominant militia the Islamist-oriented Taliban is brutal in its treatment of women and minorities. Afghanistan’s problems also hinder regional development. The region around Afghanistan is rich in oil and gas, which, if it can be exported, will help the Central Asian states consolidate their independence and develop economically. But chaos emanating from Afghanistan has fostered political instability and made economic progress more difficult. Last but not least, the continued radicalization of Afghanistan is destabilizing Pakistan. The Taliban’s ties to Pakistani Islamists combined with Islamabad’s other internal problems increase the possibility that Pakistan might become a failed state and turn further away from the West. Such a development would have untold grave consequences for U.S. national security. Afghanistan also destabilizes Central Asia, fostering violence that has hindered the implementation of a peace plan in Tajikistan and led to terrorism in Uzbekistan.

In its Afghanistan policy, the United States should stop a Taliban-led Afghanistan from acting as a rogue state, counter the spread of "Talibanism" an extreme, backward and oppressive version of radical Islam to Pakistan and Central Asia, improve human rights, and facilitate a lasting peace. Such a peace must be based on genuine Afghan self-determination and on the creation and existence of an Afghan government deriving its legitimacy from the support of the people. The attainment of such a peace, as well as an improved regional environment, entails a significant transformation of both the internal Afghan setting and of regional interactions.

To meet these objectives, Washington should take steps to weaken the Taliban and, ideally, transform it into a more benign movement. This will involve measures to isolate the Taliban internationally and to encourage the emergence of a more moderate leadership. The ultimate goal is to create a popularly-based, legitimate Afghan government that does not threaten regional and international peace and stability. Washington should also assist the development of alternative political forces that can bridge the chasm among Afghanistan’s various ethnic and religious communities and would lead Afghanistan to work more closely with the United States and the international community. This third force could be composed of moderate Afghans, such as the former king Zahir Shah and those favoring a more democratic society, such as the Afghans involved in the Intra-Afghan Dialogue. The United States also needs to do a better job of explaining its goals and strategy to the people of Afghanistan through its public diplomacy.

To complement this transformation campaign, Washington should also spell out its conditions for normalizing relations with the Taliban. The United States should offer to recognize and work with the Taliban if it agrees to a cease-fire and meets a set of conditions regarding human rights both gender and ethnic terrorism, and narcotics, as well as the formation of a more genuinely representative government. For now, the Taliban’s rigidity and radicalism would lead to the failure of this effort: such concessions would, in essence, alter the Taliban’s fundamental beliefs and policies. Over time, however, the Taliban may moderate and become more pragmatic as the transformation campaign begins to take effect. In addition, clarifying U.S. conditions for normalizing relations will aid U.S. efforts to gain regional support for the transformation campaign.

Bringing peace to Afghanistan also requires intensifying the search for regional accommodation especially between Iran and Pakistan. Here as well U.S. policy should pursue two parallel tracks. The first would emphasize cooperation and seek to develop a commonly-agreed approach to peace in Afghanistan. As part of the regional accommodation, Pakistan must abandon its quest for hegemony in Afghanistan, though Washington should recognize Pakistan’s legitimate interests in Afghanistan. Other regional powers, particularly Iran and Russia, in exchange should stop fomenting instability there. The second track involves a more active U.S. role, with Washington both applying pressure and offering inducements to push the process along. Most importantly, the United States must press Pakistan to support the new U.S. strategy and encourage Islamabad to stop supporting the Taliban as long as the Taliban pursues its current policies. Although influencing Pakistan’s Afghanistan policy is difficult given divisions within Pakistan’s government and society on this issue, without Islamabad’s support U.S. initiatives are far less likely to succeed. Washington should deepen its dialogue with Iran and intensify its talks with Russia, China, and the Central Asian states to gain their cooperation.

The United States should also redirect UN peace-making efforts and multi-national initiatives, such as the "6+2" process that involves Afghanistan’s neighbors, Russia, and the United States. Recent UN efforts to end the civil war have fallen on deaf ears. UN efforts should be focused instead on placing pressure on the Taliban. UN efforts should also focus on promoting dialogue across the range of Afghan society, particularly among those elements not affiliated with warlords whose voices might otherwise not be heard. Washington should also consider broadening the "6+2" dialogue, including sympathetic European powers that share U.S. concerns over human rights, terrorism, and narcotics.

The United States must also elevate the importance of Afghanistan at home. This will involve efforts at a declaratory level, announcing a new direction in U.S. policy and making it clear that Washington intends to play a greater role in the region. The United States must also devote additional resources economic, public diplomacy and intelligence to the region and explore ways to win the cooperation of important regional states. Perhaps most importantly, high-level diplomatic attention is required. Although the threat from Bin Laden has drawn high-level attention, Afghanistan itself must stop being a minor foreign policy concern and become an administration priority.

The White Paper Process


The Afghanistan Foundation initiated its White Paper Project on U.S. Policy toward Afghanistan to improve understanding of the region and to recommend options for U.S. policymakers. The goal of the White Paper is to create a vehicle for communication of analysis and policy ideas to Congress and Administration in order to advance U.S. policy and interests in Afghanistan and Central Asia and to promote peace and human rights to this unstable region.

Research for the White Paper involved interviews in the United States and a fact- finding mission to the region. The drafters interviewed U.S. government officials who oversee policy toward Afghanistan and the surrounding region, UN officials who have actively engaged in diplomacy regarding Afghanistan; and diplomats from the major countries concerned with Afghanistan. White Paper drafters also met with Afghan intellectuals and other concerned individuals who are familiar with the politics of their country.

From May 19 to June 6, 1998, the Foundation sent a research team to the region to inform the White Paper Process. The team consisted of Afghanistan Foundation Chairman Don Ritter, Dr. Elie Krakowski, Dr. Tom Eighmy, and Dr. Tom Gouttierre.

The Afghanistan Foundation mission visited five countries in the region while focusing on the problems in the north and south of Afghanistan. Despite the ongoing civil war, earthquakes, and nuclear tests in Pakistan, the Foundation’s research team met with senior officials from various parties to the conflict including the Taliban, the Northern Alliance, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Russia. The three-week research mission was successful not only in developing excellent information for its central focus, a White Paper, but also in strengthening relationships with the key players in the region.

Dr. Zalmay Khalilzad of the RAND Corporation served as the primary White Paper drafter. Dr. Daniel Byman of the RAND Corporation; Dr. Elie Krawkowski, President of EDK Consulting; and Chairman Don Ritter served as members of the Writers Group. A range of experts assisted the Writers Group, including Dr. Frederick Starr, Director of the Central Asian Institute at Johns Hopkins University School for Advanced International Studies; Dr. Barnett Rubin, Director of the Center for Preventive Action at the Council of Foreign Relations; Ambassador Peter Tomsen, former Special Envoy to the Afghan Resistance; Dr. Thomas Eighmy, a retired USAID Officer; Dr. Tom Gouttierre of the University of Nebraska-Omaha; Dr. Quadir Amiryar, Professor of International Law and Political Science and Director of the Central Asian Research Center at The George Washington University; Dr. Ishaq Nadiri, Jay Gould Professor of Economics at New York University; Arnold P. Schifferdecker, State Department official and former Senior Area Adviser for South Asia for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations; Kenneth Katzman of the Congressional Research Service; and Dr. Tom Greene. Daoud Yaqub and Mustafa Popal of the Afghanistan Foundation provided invaluable research assistance to the Writers Group.


In August 1998, the United States launched cruise missiles against a terrorist training camp and announced a virtual state of war against Usama bin-Laden, a Saudi terrorist financier who is headquartered in Afghanistan. The missile strikes are only the latest reminder of the problems the United States and the region face as long as Afghanistan remains in turmoil. Militias and other groups in Afghanistan brutalize women, sell drugs, train guerrillas, oppress rival ethnic and religious groups, and otherwise represent a blemish on the new world that they worked so hard to create by defeating the Red Army in the last years of the Cold War. The human rights situation is a nightmare. Millions of Afghans are refugees, and those remaining in the country often lack food, shelter, education and medicine. Women and minorities bear a particularly heavy burden, as the dominant militia the Taliban oppresses both. The problems go beyond Afghanistan. Instability in Afghanistan has prevented the region’s economic development and, most worrisome, has led to unrest in the region and in key U.S. allies such as Saudi Arabia.

Because the United States commits few resources to Afghanistan and the region in general, it is not able to act to protect its interests. Washington must develop a coherent, effective, and sustainable policy to solve the many problems Afghanistan faces and poses for the United States. It is the contention of the White Paper authors that the United States should increase its level of engagement in Afghanistan. Washington could obtain considerable benefits without deploying military forces or spending massive amounts of resources.

After almost 25 years of war and civil strife that have shattered the country, the Taliban has made dramatic gains on the ground and now dominates most of the country. Pakistan supports the Taliban, providing it with arms and money as well as organizational support. But the Taliban’s victories do not mean that peace will come to this troubled country. Although the Taliban appears to have gained dominance over most of the country, at least some limited level of conflict is likely to continue. Forces led by Ahmed Shah Masoud are still active in northeastern Afghanistan, as are several Shi’a groups. In addition, the Taliban itself may split in the future, and many non-Pashtun and Shi’a parts of Afghanistan chafe at the Taliban’s restrictive rule. Indeed, even among the Pashtuns there is some ambiguity toward the Taliban. Furthermore, regional meddling in the country appears increasingly coordinated, though coordination remains uneven. Iran, Russia, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan back what is left of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance and would probably aid any other rivals that emerge.

A Taliban victory and consolidation of power might be even more dangerous for the United States and the region than continued chaos. The Taliban is hostile to the West. In its policies at home, it rejects widely-shared human rights norms regarding the treatment of women. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that Afghan women may face more onerous restrictions than any country in the world: Afghan girls in the main do not receive schooling; employment opportunities for Afghan women outside their home have been severely restricted; women’s health care is neglected; women-headed households are not eligible for state assistance; and in many parts of Afghanistan, women are not allowed to leave the home without an escort. Religious minorities also are oppressed, as the Taliban seeks to impose its brand of Islam on Afghanistan’s Muslim communities. Moreover, it hosts terrorist and subversive groups dedicated to waging war against the United States. Finally, the Taliban itself has few members skilled in modern governance, and thus basic tasks of a state, such as economic and social development, are neglected.

Despite considerable U.S. interests in the region, Washington’s level of engagement in Afghanistan is relatively limited. Since the fall of the Soviet-backed Najibullah regime in 1992, high-level U.S. involvement in Afghanistan has been minimal. Afghanistan policy has remained uncoordinated, subject to the vagaries of regional politics and bureaucratic shifts in the United States. Nor has Washington strongly supported various UN initiatives. As a result, Afghanistan policy has drifted and has not been linked to U.S. policy toward Pakistan, Iran, Central Asia, or other key regional actors in any systematic way.

This paper attempts to begin the process of formulating a coherent policy to meet the challenges emerging from the crisis in Afghanistan. Lasting peace will require both a domestic accommodation in Afghanistan and a return of regional cooperation. The United States will have to take steps to achieve both these requirements simultaneously, or else the threats to U.S. interests will grow.

I. The Importance of Afghanistan Today


Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has consistently underestimated its interests in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is important to the United States for a range of strategic, moral, economic, and historic reasons. Afghanistan is a haven for some of the world’s most lethal anti-U.S. terrorists and their supporters. In recent years, however, instability in Afghanistan has spread outside its borders. Many terrorists in Saudi Arabia and Muslim extremists in the West received training in Afghanistan. These extremists have caused violence and instability in Israel, Bosnia, the Persian Gulf, and other parts of the world where U.S. interests are engaged. These extremists pose a threat to U.S. soldiers and civilians, to the Middle East peace process, and to the stability of our allies in the Persian Gulf and to Pakistan and Central Asia. As the world’s second largest producer of opium, Afghanistan also is a major exporter of drugs, both to Europe and increasingly to the United States.

In addition, Afghanistan itself occupies a vital geo-strategic position, near such critical but unstable regions as the Persian Gulf and the Indo-Pakistan border. Indeed, the importance of Afghanistan may grow in the coming years, as Central Asia’s oil and gas reserves, which are estimated to rival those of the North Sea, begin to play a major role in the world energy market. Afghanistan could prove a valuable corridor for this energy as well as for access to markets in Central Asia. In addition, Afghanistan can serve as a trade link between Central and South Asia. Instead, Afghanistan has proven an obstacle to the development of this region: Afghanistan’s leading exports to the area are drugs, arms, and Islamic radicalism. Competition for Afghanistan and for regional influence has resulted in Iranian and Pakistani involvement on opposite sides in the ongoing struggle in Afghanistan. This involvement is a leading cause for the prolongation of the war.

Finally, the United States has deep humanitarian interests in Afghanistan. The infant mortality rate in Afghanistan is the highest in the world. Over two million Afghan refugees live in Pakistan and Iran, destabilizing Pakistan and constituting an ongoing tragedy in both of these countries. Afghanistan’s infrastructure has been destroyed. The educated classes for the most part have either been killed or have left the country. Because of the lack of modern schools and the Taliban’s policies, Afghan children receive little education, undermining the prospects for future economic development.

Although the Taliban has brought more stability to large parts of Afghanistan, the price has been high. The Taliban has reduced the anarchy that prevailed in many parts of the country, collected arms from various militias, and lowered the prospects for the disintegration of the country. But fundamental problems remain acute. Relations among ethnic groups have deteriorated beyond their already low point after Taliban forces massacred Shi’a Hazaras in Mazar-e Sharif in 1998. Narcotics trafficking continues unabated. The Taliban also have failed to attract educated Afghans to their cause and thus have made little progress in tackling their country’s devastating economic problems.

Afghan women bear much of the suffering. Before the Taliban took power, Afghan women played an important part in Afghanistan’s public life. Today, however, they face numerous restrictions:

For the United States, these problems are of special importance, as Afghanistan played a crucial role in bringing about the collapse of the Soviet Union: perhaps the greatest U.S. foreign policy triumph since World War II. Many of the problems that plague Afghanistan today stem from the Soviet occupation and the U.S.- and Pakistani-backed resistance. Afghanistan may have been the decisive battleground of the Cold War, but the Afghan people paid a heavy price for the West’s and their victory. As the Soviets and the United States pulled out, ethnic, tribal, and sectarian conflict exploded into a brutal civil war whose dimensions far exceeded those of the struggle for power that had begun in the years before the Soviet invasion. While the world enjoys the benefits of this struggle, the Afghan people continue to suffer. Over one million Afghans have died in the struggle, and over four million have become refugees at one time or another: equivalent figures for the United States would be over 13 million killed and 52 million refugees.

U.S. Objectives

Given this historic responsibility and wide range of interests, the United States should, at a minimum, seek the following objectives in its policy toward Afghanistan:

This list of U.S. objectives is comprehensive and will be difficult to attain in full. Nevertheless, Washington should weigh developments in the region and measure the success of its policy by determining how much progress is made toward meeting these objectives. Again, the goal is not perfection but progress.

II. Politics in Afghanistan Today: A Brief Review


Because of the fighting, narrow ethnic and sectarian identities have come to the fore in Afghanistan. Before the onset of the civil war, Afghanistan had a loose national identity. During the anti-Soviet struggle, Islam united many of the fighters, providing a common banner under which to fight the invaders. Once the Soviet-backed regime fell, war, anarchy and fragmentation followed. Without the glue of the common enemy, the opposition turned their guns on each other. The conflict became increasingly one of ethnic and sectarian groups, particularly Pashtuns, Tajiks, Uzbeks, and the Shi’a Hazaras. Afghanistan became a war of all against all. During the battle for Kabul from 1992 to 1996, every major group both allied with and fought against every other major group at one time or another. In many other parts of the country warlordism is common. (A chronology of recent events in Afghanistan and a brief description of major groups can be found in Appendices A and B, respectively.)

Although the conflict in Afghanistan has deep social and political roots, the Soviet invasion and occupation changed its dynamics tremendously. For much of Afghanistan’s history, the Pashtuns produced the Afghan monarchs and dominated the military and the bureaucracy. Among Afghanistan’s other main ethnic groups, the Tajiks participated more in running the country than the two other significant ethnic groups: the Uzbeks and the Shi’a Hazaras. The Hazaras in particular were disenfranchised and impoverished. The struggle against the Soviets changed the balance power among ethnic groups and increased ethnic tensions. Moscow used ethnicity to gain support for its occupation by offering concessions to minority groups in return for their support or neutrality in the war. Moscow also encouraged the growth of ethnically-based rural militias that would protect their areas from the anti-Soviet resistance groups. One important example of ethnic militias was the Jawzjani militia comprised of Uzbeks. The militia was used in non-Uzbek regions, which further strained relations among minorities. Non-Pashtun ethnic groups increasingly chafed under Pashtun domination.

Resistance politics and the policies of the militias’ outside power supporters also had a major impact on the balance of power among the ethnic groups. First, groups such as Tajiks and Uzbeks, which traditionally did not have access to arms and were largely excluded from the key posts in the Afghan armed forces, acquired arms and gained military experience. Second, the Pashtuns were divided into many groups. Six of the seven parties in the Pakistan-based "Afghan Interim Government" were Pashtun. Active in the opposition to the Soviets, these parties and various groups received support from the United States, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

The Taliban (Islamic Student) movement, which dominates Afghanistan today, emerged in 1994. The movement began in Kandahar and consisted of disgruntled former Mujahedin and students of Islamic studies from schools located in Pakistan along the Afghan border. On August 8, 1998, the Taliban gained control over the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif, effectively relegating its remaining opponents to the country’s hinterlands. This victory came after years of hard fighting, in which the Taliban first consolidated control over the Pashtun heartland and then conquered more ethnically mixed areas, starting in Heart, in western Afghanistan, and then taking Jalalabad, in eastern Afghanistan, and the capital Kabul. The Taliban now controls almost all entry points into Afghanistan and the lion’s share of the country’s lucrative opium crop. Because of the Taliban’s victory, one unwelcome scenario for Afghanistan’s future - the partition of the country into ethnic cantons - has become highly unlikely.

The Taliban appears hostile to the United States, the West, and many regional powers. The Taliban’s rhetoric is becoming more anti-Western. Even Saudi Arabia, which had recognized the Taliban government and provided the movement with modeThe Taliban appears hostile to the United States, the West, and many regional powers. The Taliban’s rhetoric is becoming more anti-Western. Even Saudi Arabia, which had recognized the Taliban government and provided the movement with modest support, withdrew their ambassador in September 1998 due to the Taliban’s support for terrorism.

The Taliban also faces considerable opposition within Afghanistan, increasing the chances that an alternative, more moderate, force could develop. The Taliban is supported by most Pashtuns, but many oppose its harsh ideology and ties to Pakistan. Many Afghans regard it as an essentially foreign movement, a product of the refugee camps in Pakistan rather than of traditional Afghan values. Traditional Afghans also resent many of the Taliban’s radical social changes. Many Pashtun commanders support the Taliban at present but are not committed to its radical agenda and would probably work with alternative leaderships. Non-Pashtun ethnic groups resent Pashtun dominance and thus are lukewarm supporters of the Taliban at best. Many residents of the country’s two largest cities, Kabul and Herat, are hostile to the Taliban, resenting its harsh form of Islamic law.

The organized opposition to the Taliban is currently weak, however. Known commonly as the "Northern Alliance," the amalgam of anti-Taliban forces control only limited swaths of remote territories, including the Tajik-populated Panjsher Valley, much of Takhar and Badakhshan, and parts of the Hazarajat, where Afghanistan’s Shi’a Muslim community lives. Many traditional forces have lost influence during the years of war, although Zahir Shah is generally respected.

In addition to internal Afghan dynamics, regional rivalry especially between Iran and Pakistan has been a key factor in the ongoing struggle in Afghanistan. By supporting the Afghan resistance to the Soviet occupation, Pakistan gained considerable influence in Afghanistan. Most recently Pakistan has provided a wide range of support and direct aid to the Taliban. Pakistan has armed the Taliban, provided it with military advisers and intelligence, and helped supply the movement. Without Pakistani aid, the Taliban would not have been able to score some important initial victories and to sustain its subsequent drive to take over the rest of the country.

Islamabad has a wide range of interests in Afghanistan. Pakistan sees a friendly government in Kabul as essential to its national security. Given the ongoing hostility of New Delhi, Islamabad requires a secure northwestern border and, if possible, "strategic depth" for basing its forces in the event of a conflict. Pakistan also sees a friendly government in Afghanistan as a bridge to the markets and energy reserves of Central Asia.

Pakistan’s leadership, however, is not united in its backing of the Taliban or on priorities in Afghanistan. Several leading Pakistani government officials claim they seek a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan, not an outright Taliban victory. So far, however, the more pro-Taliban intelligence services have set the policy line. A range of Islamic movements and institutions in Pakistan also support the Taliban.

Iran, which also gained influence in Afghanistan because of the struggle against the Soviets, is bitterly opposed to both the Taliban and to growing Pakistani influence. To maintain influence in Afghanistan (and offset the influence of Pakistan), Iran backs Shi’a groups and other opponents of the Taliban. Iran has tried to organize and unite Afghanistan’s Shi’a population and has provided anti-Taliban forces with money, supplies, and arms. Afghanistan’s Shi’a, however, are only lukewarm in their support for Iran and often resent Tehran’s meddling. Iran worked closely with other Northern Alliance members in an attempt to stop the Taliban’s consolidation of power.

Like Pakistan, Iran has myriad interests in Afghanistan. Perhaps more than any other group in Afghanistan, the Taliban challenges Iran’s interests. At times, Iran also has sought to increase its influence among Persian (Dari)-speaking parts of Afghanistan. Iran is particularly concerned about the fate of Afghanistan’s Shi’a, which the Taliban abuses. When the Taliban gained control of Mazar-e Sharif, they killed nine Iranian diplomats, leading to widespread anger throughout Iran. Tehran fears instability on its border, seeks to return the hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees still living in Iran, and is concerned over the flow of drugs from Afghanistan. Tehran also may have an interest in continued instability in Afghanistan. Like Afghanistan, Iran seeks to be a route for gas and oil pipelines from Central Asia and may fear that a stable Afghanistan will lead to Iran being bypassed.

Several of the former Soviet republics of Central Asia also are playing a major role in Afghanistan’s politics. Both Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are concerned that the Taliban might sponsor Islamic radicalism in their countries. They have provided transit routes for arms and supplies to the Northern Alliance. Tajikistan has served as a base for arming the Taliban’s foes, with both Russia and Iran working with it to aid their Afghan allies. The recent loss of airbases by Northern Alliance forces has made Tajikistan more important. For several years, Uzbekistan backed Abdul Rashid Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek whose territory the Taliban overran in 1997-1998.

Moscow has played a limited but important role in Afghanistan in recent years. After the fall of the Najibullah regime, Russia reduced its involvement in the country. During the civil war in Tajikistan in 1992-1993, however, Russia returned to the region. Moscow has tried to capitalize on instability, real and imagined, portraying itself as the protector of Central Asia against the menace of Islamic radicalism. It has worked with the Central Asian states to provide arms and supplies to anti-Taliban forces. Russia is also leading an international diplomatic campaign to isolate the Taliban, pressing its case at the United Nations and in other international fora. Like Iran, Russia may not be enthusiastic about building oil and gas pipelines from Turkmenistan across Afghanistan to South Asia and beyond.

III. Forging a Peace in Afghanistan


A large gap exists between the high level of U.S. interests in Afghanistan and the modest level of U.S. engagement in the region in recent years. Until this gap is bridged, problems are likely to mount. Left unchecked, they will lead to continued anti-U.S. terrorism, an increase in the flow of drugs from the region, and greater regional instability. Talibanism could even spread to neighboring countries, creating further difficulties for the United States. Opportunities for economic development in Central Asia and to bring peace to Tajikistan and other regions will be squandered.

The United States has several alternatives for meeting these challenges in Afghanistan. This section reviews three options, noting their relative advantages and disadvantages. All the options are imperfect: the United States must recognize this and strive for the best, rather than the ideal, policy. In the opinion of the White Paper authors, the best course requires weakening and transforming the Taliban into a more moderate movement while laying out firm conditions that, if accepted by the Taliban, would lead to a U.S.-Taliban rapprochement.

Whatever option is chosen, the United States must make a greater effort to work more with Afghans themselves in deciding their country’s fate. The United States and Afghanistan’s neighbors must work on the principle of genuine Afghan self-determination. Past U.S. and international efforts failed in part because they ignored the legitimate concerns of Afghan groups. Any internal solution will require extensive Afghan participation if it is to succeed over the long-term.

Option One: Limited U.S. Involvement

The easiest, but least rewarding, policy for the United States is to continue its current approach of limiting its involvement in Afghanistan and the region in general. Washington could rely primarily on UN efforts, restricting its own involvement to moral suasion, small amounts of humanitarian aid, and occasional military strikes against terrorists. Although the United States would press for peaceful solutions to regional problems, it would not make Afghanistan a priority in its relations with Pakistan or other regional actors. In essence, Washington would rely on Afghan parties and regional forces to create their own balance and modus vivendi: the United States would try to work with the resulting outcome. Such an approach limits U.S. exposure and requires relatively few resources.

However, limited U.S. involvement has several disadvantages:

Option Two: Increased Engagement of the Taliban

The United States might consider working with the Taliban given its ascendancy. Regardless of the claims of other Afghan groups, the Taliban is the dominant power in Afghanistan today. The United States is already pressing the Taliban to end its objectionable behavior. By working with it even more closely, Washington might make it a more responsible power and perhaps lead it to renounce support for terrorism and to improve its human rights record. U.S. support for the Taliban may also help bring an end to the civil war - a tremendous humanitarian achievement even if the Taliban’s human rights record remains dismal. To secure U.S. objectives regarding gender issues, terrorism and narcotics, Washington might make some concessions. In contrast to a policy of limited involvement, the United States would be active in its engagement in the region, expending diplomatic and economic resources to further U.S objectives. Washington would make developments in Afghanistan a priority in its regional relations as well.

As part of an engagement strategy, the United States and the international community would also offer the Taliban a range of inducements to encourage it to become more responsible and moderate. The United States, the United Nations, or other interested powers could sponsor a donors conference to assist in Afghanistan’s reconstruction. The international community could also support relief organizations, offer development loans, and otherwise try to foster humanitarian and economic objectives. Aid would be used to encourage the Taliban to initiate more moderate policies and to reward the Taliban if it stayed the course. The United States might also offer to support turning over the Afghan seat at the United Nations to the Taliban

An engagement policy is not likely to work given the Taliban’s intransigence. Thus, the United States would face the following problems:

Option Three: Weaken and Transform the Taliban

The United States could also oppose the Taliban more directly, seeking to weaken it while transforming it into a more moderate movement. This opposition would involve two steps. First, the United States and its allies must weaken the Taliban through military stalemate. To this end, Washington could pressure Pakistan and others to end support for the Taliban.

Second, as Taliban difficulties increase, the movement could be taken over by more moderate elements. In order to encourage this development, Washington should identify more moderate leaders, using offers of aid and other incentives to convince individual leaders to support alternatives to the Taliban. As current Taliban policies are inconsistent with Islam and do not serve Afghanistan’s interests, many local leaders would be willing to consider alternatives. The United States should also consider working with the former King and other leaders in exile who espouse moderate policies and seek to bring Afghanistan’s communities together.

Transforming the Taliban offers several advantages. Most importantly, it would garner considerable support from the American people, particularly those concerned with terrorism and human rights. A transformation policy also is likely to keep the Taliban focused on problems at home, reducing its ability to spread radicalism abroad. If successful, a transformation policy could lead the Taliban to reject terrorism and narcotics trafficking and, eventually, assist in bringing lasting peace to Afghanistan.

Like the other options, however, transforming the Taliban poses several serious problems:

Recommended Policy: Transform then Engage

Because the Taliban under its current leadership is not moderating its behavior and is not likely to respond to an engagement attempt, the United States should take steps to weaken and transform it. Engagement is not feasible at this time: the Taliban will not respect it as long as the movement’s position in Afghanistan is strong, and engagement has little support in the United States. In addition, an initial embrace of the Taliban would send the wrong signals to its opponents in Afghanistan and the region, discouraging the very forces the United States seeks to strengthen. However, while beginning the transformation process, Washington should set the conditions for engagement, making it clear that it will work with the Taliban if it moderates its behavior on a range of issues. In short, U.S. policy toward Afghanistan should follow two parallel and complementary tracks, one of which begins a much tougher policy toward the Taliban while the other spells out the conditions under which the United States would work with the Taliban.

As part of the effort to weaken and transform the Taliban, Washington should begin a detailed intelligence effort, aimed at learning about divisions within the Taliban, its sources of support, and other relevant information. The United States should also coordinate its actions among regional actors to prepare for transforming the Taliban. In essence, Washington will encourage the establishment and strengthening of forces that will lead to a more moderate and peaceful Afghanistan. Initially, this activity should in part be covert, to avoid any stigma that might be attached to a public U.S. endorsement.

In practice, transformation will involve several steps:

Transforming the Taliban also requires measures to create a credible, Afghan-generated alternative to the Taliban over the long-term. If the Taliban cannot be transformed, it must be replaced. This effort would entail the systematic engagement of various Afghan groups, both among the northern opposition forces and among disaffected Taliban elements. Washington should not neglect important figures in exile who might retain support in the country. Included in such an effort is material and moral support for all activities that will move toward a legitimate Afghan government that is well-institutionalized and committed to Afghanistan’s reconstruction. The United States should in no way dictate the ultimate arrangement but rather help Afghan groups that are willing to work together and accept communal power-sharing.

As the campaign to weaken and transform the Taliban begins, Washington should clarify the conditions under which it will work with the Taliban. Such a measure will help the United States persuade other countries to support its hard line stance by making it clear that Washington will accept Taliban concessions. Washington should end its transformation campaign, offer the Taliban recognition, and provide limited humanitarian relief to areas under its control, if the Taliban agrees to:

If the Taliban agreed to and implemented such conditions, it would in essence be a different movement, one that embraced pragmatism and moderation and demonstrated that it could act as a responsible force in the region.

Washington should also start considering ways to legitimate any peace and ensure the transition to a more representative government. Clearly, it is too early to describe the specific of such an agreement given that the Taliban have given no indication of its willingness to negotiate. Nevertheless, the United States must be ready with a road map in the event that Afghan parties are ready to seek peace. Suggestions on ways to smooth the transition are listed in Appendix C.

The above measures are likely to fail without the support, or at least the acquiescence, of Afghanistan’s neighbors, particularly Pakistan and Iran. A strategy for obtaining their support can be found in Section IV.

IV. Pursuing a Regional Accommodation


Reconciling the interests of the regional powers seeking hegemony in Afghanistan is a necessary pre-condition for long term stability. At present Pakistan is in favorable position to be the dominant external player in Afghanistan as the force it backs the Taliban appears on in a stronger position than those backed by Iran and Russia. This has not led to stability. Iran continues to back anti-Taliban forces and has used its own military in an attempt to intimidate the Taliban. As long as outside powers seek to control events in Afghanistan, the flow of arms and money to fighters will continue, and Afghanistan will remain unstable.

Pakistan’s quest for hegemony has destabilized Afghanistan. Islamabad has worked against peace when a settlement might reduce its influence. Islamabad fears a lack of control in Afghanistan might create an additional security threat, and many members of Pakistan’s military and intelligence services share the Islamist agenda of the Taliban. At the same time, it is not clear whether Iran, Russia, and other regional states favor mutual accommodation among Afghanistan’s various ethnic groups and sects or continuing conflict.

Despite their many differences, the regional states also have several common interests that could lead to greater cooperation. Both Iran and Pakistan wish to end the large, and potentially destabilizing, refugee presence in their countries. All the regional states fear that Afghanistan will become a breeding ground for terrorists of all stripes - including ones that destabilize Pakistan as well as neighboring states.

Any settlement must build on these common interests, both positive and negative. Most importantly, all regional powers must come to recognize that peace is preferable to continued conflict. To encourage this sentiment, Washington should promote a set of negative guarantees, including agreements that no power will deploy troops in Afghanistan or use it as a base to destabilize a neighbor. Pakistan must recognize that it cannot control Afghanistan, while Iran and the Central Asian states will avoid creating unrest to prevent a pipeline from being built or to weaken the government there. Finally, the powers must work together to ensure that no major ethnic group is a victim of extreme discrimination.

The United States should try to foster regional cooperation through multilateral initiatives and direct leadership. The UN "6+2" effort a long-standing but somnolent diplomatic grouping that includes Afghanistan’s neighbors as well as the United States and Russia has achieved little. Although all participants supposedly support an end to outside interference in Afghanistan, most meddle actively. Washington should try to convince all regional parties to agree to a common set of "rules of the game," which would be announced as part of a joint effort. This would entail a series of U.S. approaches to regional states to identify common ground and to build a consensus for a constructive Afghan alternative. Washington should also consider broadening the "6+2" dialogue, including sympathetic European powers that share U.S. concerns over human rights, terrorism, and narcotics. Multilateral initiatives, however, are likely to meet with at best limited success without more active direct U.S. involvement. The reluctance of some states to cooperate on their own (and the internal instabilities and struggles occurring today in Russia, Pakistan, and Iran) will require a more forceful U.S. policy.

Diplomatic efforts: Pakistan

Perhaps more than any other country, Pakistan can play a crucial role in bringing peace to Afghanistan. The United States has let its relationship with Pakistan drift since the end of the Cold War. In recent years acrimony has grown, and Pakistan’s nuclear tests further strained U.S.-Pakistan relations. For any progress to occur on transforming the Taliban, however, the United States must repair relations with Pakistan. Pakistan helped create the Taliban and continues to play a major role in guiding and funding it a relationship far greater than any other one between an Afghan faction and an external power. This role can be exploited. Pakistan’s collapsing economy increases U.S. economic leverage. Moreover, U.S. policy can exploit the fractious Pakistani political scene.

To achieve progress in Afghanistan, Washington must make it clear to Islamabad that it understands and accepts Pakistan’s legitimate interests in the region. These legitimate interests include the existence of a non-antagonistic Afghanistan willing to explore all mutually-beneficial relationships, including the opening up of Central Asia to trade with the south and the promotion of economic development. Washington must also emphasize that a stable Afghanistan that is based neither on exclusionary Pashtun dominance nor on Pakistani control of rigid and radical Islamists is far more in Pakistan’s interests than the current high-risk strategy being followed.

In addition to these inducements, the United States should make it clear that a lack of progress on Afghanistan will impede improved U.S.-Pakistan relations. Washington should explicitly condemn Pakistan’s excessive support for the Taliban. In response to possible Pakistani rebuffs, the United States should consider working more with India perhaps even raising the possibility of more military-to-military ties threaten to cut economic aid and trade, limit International Monetary Fund assistance, or otherwise use various sticks to emphasize the importance of Afghanistan to the United States.

Whenever possible, the United States shouWhenever possible, the United States should try to strengthen the position of those groups in Pakistan that have a position more compatible with that of the United States. Washington must recognize that there is a wide divergence of opinion in Pakistan with regard to the Taliban. As a result, forging an agreement with the Foreign Ministry may not lead to its implementation by the military and the intelligence services. Particular attention should be focused on pushing the intelligence service to rethink its Afghanistan policy. The military, and through it the intelligence services, could become more inclined to cooperate with U.S. initiatives if it saw the promise of gaining access to U.S. military hardware and expertise. Washington should also consider a public relations campaign aimed at the people of Pakistan in order to gain their support for U.S. initiatives.

The above measures require devoting more high level attention to the difficult problem of persuading, and pressuring, Pakistan to support U.S. objectives in Afghanistan.

Diplomatic efforts: Iran

Next to Pakistan, Iran is the most important outside power active in Afghanistan. Washington must work with Iran if it is to achieve its objectives. Given the long-standing chill in relations, however, close cooperation at this time is not practical. Instead, Washington should intensify the dialogue with Iran on Afghanistan. Both countries share an interest in stopping the narcotics trade and preventing Taliban extremism. This dialogue may even serve as a springboard for progress on broader issues that divide the United States and Iran. So far, Tehran appears to have turned a deaf ear to U.S. requests for an official dialogue, but growing support for reform in Iran might make cooperation more likely.

Diplomatic Efforts: the International Community

The United States should also end its neglect of international and multi-lateral efforts to bring peace and improve human rights in Afghanistan. In particular, Washington should:

Diplomatic Efforts: Other Key States

As the above discussion makes clear, the problem of Afghanistan is a regional one. For any solution to work, the United States should cooperate with important regional actors as well as Pakistan and Iran. In particular, Washington should:

The plan for the region must develop in step with the strategy for Afghanistan described above in Section III. Washington must press regional powers to cut their support for the Taliban and help weaken and transform it. The United States should also try to gain regional support for its declared objectives in the region, increasing the incentives of the Taliban to shed its objectionable practices and moderate its behavior.

V. Steps to Take at Home


The United States can play an important role in bringing peace to Afghanistan. As noted above, a sensible U.S. approach is to weaken and transform the Taliban while clarifying the steps the Taliban must take before the United States will work with them. At the same time, Washington must begin the difficult task of forging a regional consensus in favor of peace and stability in Afghanistan. Any U.S. initiative requires a wide range of efforts in Afghanistan, in the region, and at home. The United States must provide a more consistent focus on Afghanistan, as this is the only way to convey its commitment to both Afghan and regional actors.

Many of the problems facing the United States with regard to Afghanistan and the region as a whole stem from a lack of resources available to U.S. officials. There has been little U.S. involvement either financial or diplomatic in recent years beyond limited backing of various UN measures. Thus, the United States must elevate the importance of Afghanistan. To take a more proactive policy, such as that outlined in this White Paper, the United States must expend diplomatic and financial resources that are currently not available to U.S. government officials. Specific steps include:

For any policy to succeed, Washington must secure U.S. domestic support. This can be done by engaging in a public diplomacy campaign to explain the importance of Afghanistan. The country’s role as a host to terrorists, its proximity to critical regions, and its past role and sacrifice in defeating the Soviets all should be emphasized. Particularly important is bringing in groups concerned with the Taliban’s mistreatment of women one of the major few interest groups in the United States concerned with Afghanistan.

The above list of initiatives will require a substantial change in U.S. policy, but it will not require a massive outlay of resources. The United States will not have to use its military forces, and the necessary reconstruction aid and other financial inducements are limited given that the poverty of the region makes even modest U.S. contributions desirable to all potential partners. The key change is a political one. Washington must exercise leadership in order to bring peace and prosperity to Afghanistan and the region.

Appendix A. A Chronology of Recent Afghan History


President Mohammed Daoud assumes the Presidency of Afghanistan after a military coup and abolishes the monarchy. King Zahir Shah sent into exile.


Opposition to Daoud increases among a range of Islamic and Communist factions.

April 1978

Daoud assassinated and replaced by a junta led by Hafizullah Amin.

December 1979

Soviet troops invade Afghanistan, install friendly government


Armed tribal groups begin a jihad against the Soviet-installed government


Armed mujahedin groups fight Soviet and government forces; hundreds of thousands of Afghans die in the struggle, and millions more become refugees.


President Mohammed Najibullah takes office


Geneva Accords signed, outlining a plan for the withdrawal of Soviet troops

February 1989

Soviet troops complete withdrawal

February 1989 to April 1992

Increased conflict between government and opposition forces

April 1992

President Najibullah is replaced by a four-member council under a UN plan

Late April 1992

An interim government led by Professor Sebghatollah Mojadedi takes power

June 1992

An interim government led by Borhannudin Rabbani takes office

December 1992

Borhannudin Rabbani is elected President, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar Prime Minister, and Ahmad Shah Massoud Minister of Defense

1992 to early 1995

Fighting spreads to all major cities as the Shura-e Nezar (Supervisor Council) and the Shura-e Hamahangi (Supreme Coordination Council) compete for control.

Late 1994

The Taliban emerges as a major force.

September 27, 1996

The Taliban gains control of Kabul

Late 1996 - early 1997

Militia leaders Dostum and Rabbani, along with the Hezb-e Wahdat and Harrakat-e Islami factions form the Northern Alliance to resist the Taliban. The Taliban, however, continues to make gains and conquer Kandahar, Herat, and Jalalabad.

May 1997

Dostum goes into exile in Turkey for four months following the defection of General Malik, a leading commander, to the Taliban. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE recognize the Taliban.

September 1997

Dostum returns to his stronghold in Mazar-e Sharif with strong backing from Uzbekistan.

March 1998

UN withdraws international workers from southern Afghanistan, citing physical abuse by Pakistan.

April 1998

Ambassador Richardson visits the region and discusses Afghanistan, reaching an agreement among key parties to negotiate their differences. The Taliban breaks the agreement in May.

August 8,1998

Taliban forces capture key Northern Alliance stronghold of Mazar-e Sharif

August 20, 1998

US cruise missile strikes on Afghanistan in response to terrorist attacks by Usama Bin Laden on U.S facilities in Tanzania and Kenya.

August 1998.

Continued Taliban military advances. Iranian Revolutionary Guards deploy along Afghan border following killing of Iranian diplomats in Afghanistan and mass killings of ethnic Hazaras by Taliban troops.

September 1998 - present

The Taliban captures Bamian. Forces led by Massoud shell Kabul and continue resisting Taliban advances. Massoud’s forces later recapture Bamian, and fighting continues.

February 1999

The Taliban rules out ‘Usama bin Laden’s extradition. The Taliban subsequently claims he is missing.

Appendix B: Major Factions in Afghanistan


Leader (s)

Ethnicity/ Ideology

Areas of Control


Mullah Muhammad Omar

Radical Islam; Pashtun dominated

All major cities; greatest area of support is in southeastern Afghanistan

Jamiat-e Islamic

Burhannudin Rabbani (political leader) and Ahmad Shah Masoud (military leader)

Tajik; moderate Islamic

Panjshir Valley, small parts of northeast Afghanistan

Hizb-e Wahdat

Abd-al Karim Khalili

Shi’a Hazaras; movement divided internally

In August 1998 lost control of strongholds to the Taliban

Harrakat-e Islami

Sheik Mohseni


Shamali (regions to the north of Kabul), Takhar, Sarre Pul and Samangan

Junbesh-e-Milli-e Afghanistan

Rashid Dostum

Uzbek; nominally socialist

Lost last stronghold of Mazar-e Sharif in northwest Afghanistan to the Taliban in August 1998

Appendix C: Managing the Transition


Perhaps the most difficult obstacle in past attempts to bring peace to Afghanistan is the difficult transition from war to peace. Due to 20 years of war, many Afghans now have no memory of a time when differences were resolved peacefully. Groups naturally hesitate to lay down their arms, as they fear that any successor government might seek revenge or oppress them. Trust is particularly difficult to develop in such situations. Afghanistan is also devastated economically. With narcotics as the only major crop, restoring a normal economy will prove highly-difficult. Any government that is to bring peace to Afghanistan, however, must be legitimate and able to act decisively. Some legitimacy is necessary to ensure the government’s acceptance among all major ethnic and religious groups. Moreover, the government must be strong enough to control Afghanistan’s borders to prevent the flow of drugs and arms and to crack down on any terrorist groups in the country.

Managing this transition will require care, resources, and thought. Even assuming that the Taliban is transformed and becomes willing to negotiate, a daunting array of challenges remain. Three issues remain particularly contentions: forming a government; ensuring security; and economic reconstruction. This Appendix offers some initial thoughts on the tasks ahead. Progress in Afghanistan will require a far more extensive review of the issues and ideas presented below.

Formation of a Government

Even if the Taliban agreed to a cease-fire and the formation of a more inclusive government, it is not clear what shape this government should take. Afghanistan needs to resolve basic issues such as the level of popular participation in decision making; protection of minority (both sectarian and ethnic) rights; and the level of regional control.

A system that is decentralized, with a communal "veto" over key issues, may be most appropriate. Such a system will ensure a high level of local autonomy and prevent any single community from dominating decision making. Although more decentralized systems tend to be weak governments, in Afghanistan this may be an added benefit, as it would probably help reassure wary neighbors, such as Iran and Pakistan, that Afghanistan is not able to pose a threat. Decentralization, however, must not become a justification for warlordism.

Building a New Security Force

Perhaps the most difficult challenge will be ensuring police and other security functions without leading rivals to take up arms. Currently, Afghanistan is a violent society. A security force dominated by one community or faction will alienate other communities, making them likely to take up arms or refuse a settlement. In addition, Afghanistan confronts the legacy of the 10-year war against the Soviets and the ensuing civil war: thousands of fighters who have known little else except war must give up their weapons and settle down.

Several possibilities exist to resolve, or at least reduce, problems with a security force. First, interested and impartial outsider powers could play a role. Given that the countries most willing to send soldiers are also those with their own local proxies (e.g. Pakistan), the United States and other concerned powers should try to find and financially assist more benign intervention. Soldiers from currently non-involved, Islamic countries, such as Egypt and Bangladesh, might be useful in providing the core of a police force. Second, a small number of current fighters from all warring groups should be integrated into a national army, as was done successfully in Mozambique. This army should be trained with a national identity and, given the difficult of imbuing it with a national esprit, limited in size. This army should not be strong, but it must be able to police Afghanistan’s borders and crack down on radicals operating inside the country.

Economic reconstruction

Micro-managing the transition process before the parties even agree to peace is, of course, foolish. Nevertheless, several challenges remain important and can be better overcome with advanced planning. By exploring the issues of governance, security, and reconstruction, the United States can make peace more durable when the parties are ready to lay down their arms.

Appendix D. Biographies of Authors

Dr. Zalmay Khalilzad. Dr. Khalilzad currently serves as the Program Director for Strategy, Doctrine, and Force Structure at the RAND Corporation’s Project Air Force. He has served as the Director of Policy Planning in the Office of the Secretary of Defense in the Bush administration, where he helped shape U.S. post war defense strategy. He actively shaped U.S. policy in Afghanistan as a special advisor to the Undersecretary of State for Policy and a member of the State Department Policy Planning Staff during the Reagan administration.

Dr. Daniel Byman. Dr. Byman is a policy analyst with the RAND Corporation, where he assesses global and Middle East military and strategic developments. Previously, he served as a political analyst on the Middle East for the U.S. government.

Dr. Elie D. Krakowski. Dr. Krakowski currently serves as President of EDK Consulting, a global political and security risk management firm. As a former Special Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Defense during the Reagan administration, Dr. Krakowski was responsible for the development and implementation of policy on regional conflicts and international terrorism.

The Honorable Don Ritter. Dr. Ritter serves as the Chairman of the Afghanistan Foundation. As a member of Congress (R-PA, 1979-1993), he founded the Congressional Task Force on Afghanistan. He was also the ranking House Member on the Congressional Helsinki Commission, which he applied toward the Soviet involvement in neighboring Afghanistan.

Appendix E. About the Afghanistan Foundation


The Afghanistan Foundation was established by its Chairman, former Congressman Don Ritter (R-PA, 1979-1993) in October 1996 to help bring peace and prosperity to Afghanistan. It is motivated by the belief that the United States has an historical and moral obligation to assist the people of Afghanistan in bringing peace to their country given the pivotal role that they played in defeating the Soviet Army and ending the Cold War. The Foundation promotes dialogue among Afghans, publicizes developments in Afghanistan, and tries to foster cooperation and understanding among those concerned with Afghanistan’s future. Since its inception less than two years ago, the Foundation has held educational and policymaking forums as well as "roundtables" in the U.S. Congress. It has testified at Congressional hearings promoted dialogue among U.S. government and international organizations. It has tried to find common ground among key players in the region, including the Taliban, the Northern Alliance and key representatives from Pakistan, Central Asian nations and Russia.

The Foundation is honored to have as its National Honorary Co-Chairman two former White House National Security Advisors, Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, and General Brent Scowcroft. Also closely advising and working with the Foundation are Dr. Zalmay Khalilzad, RAND Corp.; Dr. Tom Gouttierre, Director of the Center for Afghanistan Studies, University of Nebraska, Omaha; Dr. Fredrick Starr, former President of Oberlin College and now Chairman of the Central Asia Institute, School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University; and Dr. Barnett Rubin, Council on Foreign Relations.

In addition to the above listed individuals, the Foundation's Congressional Advisory Board serves as a channel of contact between the Foundation and senior Members of Congress, many of whom were members of the Congressional Task Force on Afghanistan during the 1980s and early 1990s. Others on the Board are active on human rights or have strong Afghan-American constituents. These include, but not limited to: Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, Congressman David Dreier, Congressman John Porter, Congressman Ed Royce, Congressman Gary Ackerman, Congressman Chris Smith, Congressman Tom Davis, and former Congressman Charles Wilson. Additional interested Congressmen continue to join the Congressional Advisory Board as the Foundation grows.

The Foun The Foundation's Diplomatic and International Boards also engage a cross-section of leadership. Members include former Afghan and American Ambassadors, ex-State Department and senior diplomatic officials, intellectuals, business leaders, artists, scholars, educators, and private citizens. These individuals share information, ideas and perspectives with the Foundation by providing political, historical, ethnic, religious, cultural, intellectual, and international perspectives to the Chairman, the Board of Directors, the Executive Director, and others working with the Foundation.