Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy [December 21, 2011] [open pdf - 1MB]
"The U.S. official view is that security gains achieved by the surge could be at risk from weak Afghan governance and insurgent safe haven in Pakistan, and that Afghanistan will still need direct security assistance after 2014. Afghan governance is perceived as particularly weak and corrupt, despite the holding of regular elections since 2004 and the establishment of several overlapping anti-corruption institutions. In order to frame the long-term security relationship, U.S. and Afghan officials are negotiating a 'strategic partnership,' although differences over U.S. latitude to conduct operations have held up completion of that pact to date. As the transition proceeds, there is increasing emphasis on the need for a negotiated settlement to the Afghanistan conflict. The September 20, 2011, assassination of former President Burhanuddin Rabbani, a key figure in the reconciliation effort, set back such efforts, but perhaps only temporarily. There are major concerns among Afghanistan's minorities and among its women that reconciliation might produce compromises that erode the freedoms enjoyed since 2001. Regional support is considered key to reconciliation, and U.S. officials maintain that all of Afghanistan's neighbors, including Pakistan and Iran, should cease using Afghanistan to promote their own interests and instead help Afghanistan reemerge as a major regional trade route as part of a 'New Silk Road (NSR)' economic integration strategy. Obtaining such regional commitments was a focus of a November 2, 2011, meeting in Istanbul, although it was not a focus of the December 5, 2011, Bonn Conference because of Pakistan's boycott of the meeting."
CRS Report for Congress, RL30588