Afghanistan Analysts Network’s Country Director, Kate Clark, in an exclusive interview with The Oslo Times International
Kate Clark is the Country Director for the Afghanistan Analysts Network.She has been involved in Afghanistan since 1999, where she first worked as the BBC’s Kabul correspondent, and was only western journalist based in the country at that time. She has extensively reported on massacres, drought, war, football matches and tourism.
Her publications include the Chatham House paper No Shortcut to Stability: Justice, Politics and Insurgency in Afghanistan,The Takhar attack: Targeted killings and the parallel worlds of US intelligence and Afghanistan, and The Layha: Calling the Taliban to Account. Kate in an exclusive interview with The Oslo Times International News Network’s Editor -in Chief, Hatef Mokhtar, spoke about negotiation with Taliban and role of both parties for peace building.
Excerpts below give us an insight into the interesting talk that followed:
Good afternoon madam, it’s good to have you with us at The Oslo Times International News Network, before we start can you tell our readers a little about yourself?
Yeah, my name is Kate Clark. I am currently the country director for Afghanistan Analysis network. We are a Kabul based non-profit research organization, and everyone can read about our research and public events from our website, we look at politics, the war, human rights, culture, natural history and all sorts of things.
The Afghan government and the Taliban still face major rifts on issues of key importance, including the nature of any post-reconciliation government and what do you have to say about holding negotiation with Taliban?
Well I don’t think there is a negotiation at the moment, I totally agree the negotiation with Taliban. This is the first difficult inklings of such things happening. President Ashraf Ghani has made claims that he would like to have talks. We haven’t really heard from Taliban, we have heard sort of indirectly from Pakistan they would also like talks to happen. So I would say we are still at a really preliminary phase, where there is an opening for talks between the Afghan government and Taliban. And this little things having like today we learnt in Oslo there were membership of government, members of the Taliban on the same course looking at cease-fire have to do cease-fire.
So do you think it is possible to negotiate with Taliban or not?
Yes, of course it is possible.
How is it possible, many people including alot of people at this conference are still saying that it is not possible, they are extremists, they are fundamentalist, its possible to negotiation with extremist group such as Taliban or you have some other alternative?
I guess, My question for you would be what’s the alternative? Do you think Taliban can be defeated militarily.
This is what my question?
If you don’t what you want for your country? Do you want to end this war? I am not talking on behalf of Afghanistan. I am talking on behalf of Norwegian media, The Oslo Times International News Network. What do you think will be the alternative?
Let me rephrase that. I guess the question is what is the alternative? Unless you think Taliban can be defeated militarily and obviously they were not by the might of the native of American military, will they defeated now by the Afghan within such backing, if not, do you think Taliban will win? I actually feel neither side will win. Neither side can rule Afghanistan by force or by using force. So, negotiations will have to happen, if you want to end the fighting. So therefore you can say, what needs to happen looking at the moment of the policies of Ashraf Ghani, he has obviously opened up the door for negotiations but he is also preparing for war. He is got a twin track approach and the Taliban certainly they have shown that sort of attitude. We really don’t know what they are thinking at the moment but certainly for example when they are opening the Qatar office, they didn’t stop fighting , so this is normal.
Let me the change the topic here, how do you see the freedom of expression and media freedom in Afghanistan?
At the moment, its relatively good. When I was there in pre 2001, I was one of the four independent journalists in the country, five if you include Aljazeera. So there was me and there was three very good Afghan journalists heading of international news agencies. There were a few underground run publications but except of those everything was state run and they were really boring papers , very boring radio network, we have now got flourishing of the media scene. We got some very strong journalists, very thoughtful journalists, who are prepare to risk facing upto power. If you look at for example for human rights watch recent server of journalistic freedom, one of the worrying thing most of the journalists said the main threats came from the people in the government or aligned to the government rather than the Taliban, this is a bad thing. journalist are doing a good job, despite the problems and threats they face and this requires a lot of bravery and dedication.
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