`Dancing with the prince': NGOs' survival strategies in the Afghan conflict

Afghan NGOs have been a major provider of humanitarian aid throughout the Afghan conflict. They remained operational during this period by `dancing' with and between the various parties to the conflict, their survival contingent on their ability to build ad hoc patterns of alliance and Cupertino. This article explores the nature of `the dance' between NGOs, the warring parties, and the NGOs' constituencies. It asks whether `dancing with the prince' represents an accommodation with violence or is a necessary compromise which will ultimately contribute to resolving the conflict. It concludes by drawing out key lessons for donors who support indigenous NGOs operating in complex political emergencies. An updated version of this article is freely available as a chapter in Development NGOs and Civil Society.