The U.S. move to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan may be seen in Washington as the only effective and viable strategy to stabilise the country, but not everyone in the diplomatic community at U.N. headquarters agrees.
"I am not an expert on military matters. [But] the solution to the Afghan situation is not the military one," Staffan de Mistura, the top U.N. official in Afghanistan, told IPS in response to a question about whether an increased U.S. military presence would be helpful in bringing peace.
De Mistura, a long-serving Swedish diplomat, briefed the U.N. Security Council on December 22 about the situation in Afghanistan. He stressed the need for a political solution, and said avoiding civilian casualties was a "must" to make international efforts for peace and development a success.
His take on the military aspect of the conflict's resolution also resonated in the speeches of several diplomats who took part in the discussions. Speaker after speaker emphasised that political dialogue, national reconciliation and development initiatives were the key.
"Success doesn't depend on military operations," Mexican ambassador Claude Heller told the Council. In his view, the situation in Afghanistan demands intense efforts for development and increased efforts to protect the lives of civilians who are falling victim to armed attacks from both sides.
At a NATO summit held in Lisbon in November, it was agreed that security would be handed over to Afghan authorities by 2014, and that before and during the transition process the world community would intensify its efforts to help Afghanistan rebuild itself from the ruins of war.