PUBLISHED:09:47 EST, 9 September 2012| UPDATED:17:03 EST, 9 September 2012
A Foreign Office aide has slammed claims that Afghanistan could be split into eight different ‘kingdoms’ – with some ruled by the Taliban.
According to the Independent on Sunday newspaper Tobias Ellwood MP has devised a radical blueprint for the future of Afghanistan, code-named Plan C, which would see President Hamid Karzai relegated to a figurehead role.
But speaking to Mail Online, Mr Ellwood said there was no such plan and that the document in question was a confidential development report written 18 months ago.
He insisted that there was no question of creating kingdoms or partitioning the country.
The report, he claimed, aimed to examine ways to encourage economic development and ensure the future stability of the country and was the result of lengthy consultations with various Afghan factions.
He said: ‘There is no question of kingdoms or partition of any kind.
‘This report is based on the views and thoughts of the Afghan people including academics and local leaders.
‘This isn’t a plan, it was a private paper based on observations that were made two years ago.’
According to the Independent on Sunday the ‘plan’ divides Afghanistan into eight zones – Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif, Kunduz, Jalalabad, Khost and Bamyan.
Mr Ellwood claimed it only considered the creation of economic hubs ‘completely different’ from kingdoms or partitions.
The zones would be run by a council representing different ethnic groups and overseen by one or more foreign countries.
Mr Ellwood described the use of the word ‘Kingdom’ as ‘inaccurate’ and ‘extremely provocative’.
According to the Independent on Sunday newspaper Tobias Ellwood MP, left, has devised a blueprint for the future of Afghanistan which would see President Hamid Karzai, right, relegated to a figurehead role
The newspaper quoted the report as reading: ‘The Taliban will not enter into a meaningful dialogue if there is no feasible political strategy within which they can participate… An alternative solution [offers] a less centralised political structure that better reflects the ethnic make-up of the country, the already established economic hubs and the regional interest of the Taliban, who might then be encouraged towards a political settlement.’
The existence of the report was reportedly confirmed by a senior government source who said it had been presented to Foreign Secretary William Hague and to the White House.
critics have warned that Britain should not be imposing a system on Afghanistan and instead should be concentrating on removing military forces by 2014.
Thomas Ruttig, co-director of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, told the Independent on Sunday: ‘Splitting the country into such regions will result in the empowerment of what we have started calling ‘local (or regional) power brokers’ and what was known as ‘warlords’ before, whose misrule between 1992 and 1996 caused the rise of the Taliban in the first place.