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What a 16-year-old Pakistani Girl Knows That Obama Doesn't: Peace Talks Essential

Malala Yousafzai, shot in the head by Taliban, says US must hold talks to end the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Jon Queally

Malala Yousafzai, the sixteen-year-old girl shot in the head by Taliban members in her native Pakistan for speaking out for women's right to education, is calling out the U.S. government and her own for refusing to do what seems obvious to her: hold peace talks.

Now living in the UK following surgeries for her wounds and ongoing rehabilitation, Yousafzai gave an interview to the BBC in which she called on the U.S to make efforts to end the war taking place in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"The best way to solve problems and to fight against war is through dialogue," she told the BBC. "That's not an issue for me, that's the job of the government... and that's also the job of America."

Karzai bucks BSA

Meanwhile, as the possibility of talks between the Afghan Taliban have stalled once again ahead of next year's deadline set by President Obama, a negotiated peace seems as far away as ever.

At a press conference on Monday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he is not sure the U.S.—now in its thirteenth year of occupying the Central Asian country—can be trusted to respect Afghan sovereignty after 2014. And once again, Karzai is threatening not to sign a military agreement, called the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), designed to establish the ground rules for ongoing U.S. and NATO involvement in the country.

Karzai said he is unsatisfied with the behavior of the U.S. government, specifically citing the continued death of Aghan civilians by U.S. troops, aerial bombings by ISAF forces, and continued drone attacks.

Referring to the U.S and NATO leaders, Karzai said, "They want us to keep silent when civilians are killed. We will not, we cannot."

"The United States and Nato have not respected our sovereignty. Whenever they find it suitable to them, they have acted against it. This has been a serious point of contention between us and that is why we are taking issue of the BSA strenuously in the negotiations right now," Karzai said.

"They commit their violations against our sovereignty and conduct raids against our people, air raids and other attacks in the name of the fight on terrorism and in the name of the resolutions of the United Nations. This is against our wishes and repeatedly against our wishes," he continued.

Earlier this year, the Taliban opened an office in Qatar in order to pave the way for negotiations. So far, however, little or no progress has been made.

The 'forgotten war' and the years ahead

According to author Ann Jones, who recently wrote about the war in Afghanistan—officially America's longest—argued there is little comfort to be found as 2014 approaches. As in Iraq, she says, the destruction and hardships born of U.S. war will continue for decades.

"Even when the war 'ends' and Americans have forgotten it altogether, it won’t be over in Afghanistan," Jones writes. In fact, she adds, "It won’t be over in the U.S. either." She explains:

In Afghanistan, [...] as the end of a longer war supposedly draws near, the rate at which civilians are being killed has actually picked up, and the numbers of women and children among the civilian dead have risen dramatically.  This week, as the Nation magazine devotes a special issue to a comprehensive study of the civilian death toll in Afghanistan -- the painstaking work of Bob Dreyfuss and Nick Turse -- the pace of civilian death seems only to be gaining momentum as if in some morbid race to the finish.

Like Iraqis, Afghans, too, are in flight -- fearing the unknown end game to come.  The number of Afghans filing applications for asylum in other countries, rising sharply since 2010, reached 30,000 in 2012. Undocumented thousands flee the country illegally in all sorts of dangerous ways.  Their desperate journeys by land and sea spark controversy in countries they’re aiming for.  It was Afghan boat people who roused the anti-immigrant rhetoric of candidates in the recent Australian elections, revealing a dark side of the national character even as Afghans and others drowned off their shores.  War reverberates, even where you least expect it.

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