The cost of a peace deal in Afghanistan

My second article from Afghanistan is about Afghans opposed to President Hamid Karzai’s Western-backed efforts to reconcile with the Taliban.

This movement is, I believe, consequential, and may present Afghanistan’s international allies with a biting dilemma.

“After a lot of effort and many, many hundreds of millions of dollars, you may reach that peace deal,” Mahmoud Saikal, a former Afghan deputy foreign minister who is now organizing against Karzai, told me. “But you will have lost the Afghan people.”

A deal struck by Karzai, in other words, may trigger intense opposition among Afghans — especially the liberal and democratically inclined — who fear the rights they’ve gained over the last ten years will be bargained away. Then whose side will we be on?