What will come out of the 'historic' Kabul conference?

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by Neil, Jul 20, 2010.

  1. Neil

    Neil Senior Member Senior Member

    Jun 23, 2010
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    It's the first major international conference in Kabul for as long as any Afghan can remember.

    But how will it be remembered?
    "Historic" is the word used by Afghan Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal, who played a key role in organising the major gathering attended by dozens of foreign ministers and representatives of the international community.

    "We are putting on a display Afghan leadership and asking for Afghan ownership," he told the BBC.

    No new money will be pledged to a country that's already received tens of billions of dollars in aid since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

    But Afghan officials are reiterating their long standing demand that more of this money should be channelled through their own budget, with an initial target of 50% - up from the 20% now being allocated.

    n return the international community has worked with Afghans on establishing benchmarks on key economic and social goals with six-month targets.
    The targets range from job creation, to urban development, agriculture and mining.

    "Its back to fundamentals," asserted former Afghan Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani, who is a key conference co-ordinator.

    "It's about what to grow, and how to grow it, what to build and how to build it."

    UN Special Representative Staffan de Mistura presented a similar assessment.

    "The Afghans are saying 'trust us, give us benchmarks' and the international community is saying the same thing

    The buzz word is "Afghanisation" with Afghan government ministries being organised in new clusters expected to meet new targets of financial accountability, efficiency and effectiveness.
    Security is the major issue in a country battling against a growing Taliban insurgency and with Afghan security forces still plagued by corruption, absenteeism and illiteracy.

    Mr Ghani said Afghans were, like many in the international community, looking to the date of 2014 as a marker when Afghans could take full responsibility for their own security.

    Major troop contributors like Britain have indicated they want to bring their troops home by then.

    With a growing realisation that the war cannot be ended militarily, the difficult and delicate issue of talking to armed Afghan groups, including the Taliban, will be on the agenda.

    Embattled city...::
    Former Taliban official Abdul Salaam Zaeef said he saw little sign that obstacles to negotiations were being tackled.Former Taliban official Abdul Salaam Zaeef warns of "obstacles" to negotiations

    It is a challenge to produce results and a challenge even to organise this major conference in a still embattled city.

    Afghan police are taking the lead in what they call an unprecedented security operation. Large areas of the city will be locked down during the conference.

    In the hours leading up to it, key roads were closed, leading to traffic gridlock in some neighbourhoods and deserted streets in others, as many residents decided not to venture out.

    Glistening chandeliers...::
    Enter the venue on the grounds of the Afghan Foreign Ministry and you would be forgiven for thinking you had entered a different world.

    The main meetings were organised in marbled halls glistening with chandeliers.

    For quieter conversations, delegates can wander through rose gardens, and over wooden bridges spanning tranquil pools and splashing fountains.

    They can visit a special exhibition on the sprawling lawn with Afghan goods and crafts ranging from silk carpets with traditional and modern designs, animal figurines carved from Afghan marble and onyx, and pieces of jewellery cradling precious stones.

    "We are using this opportunity to show Afghanistan's unique crafts, its goods and agricultural products for which it is world famous," said Nourullah Delawari, who heads the Afghanistan Investment Support Agency.

    He was confident the country could overcome the huge obstacles in a country still struggling to emerge from three decades of war.

    A suicide bomber on a main road in the days leading up to the conference underlined concerns that despite massive security, the Taliban would try to make their opposition known.
    And many Afghans now have to be convinced their government can deliver.

    One man stopped us on the street and demanded: "Ask about corruption! It goes from top to bottom," he insisted, using his hands to demonstrate the extent of the problem.

    Others still expressed hope the conference could help move their country towards the peace and prosperity that has long eluded it.

    There is a lot of debate about whether the conference should have been held at all.

    Afghan member of Parliament Shukria Barakzai was scathing in her criticism.

    "What came out of London, Tokyo, Paris conferences?" she demanded. "Nine years is a long time."

    Before and after...::
    Another MP, Daoud Sultanzoy, welcomed a conference he also termed historic, but warned it could be "the last hurrah" unless it produced tangible results.

    "Don't think of it as the Kabul conference," said Ashraf Ghani.

    "Think of it as the Kabul process. What matters is what comes before and after."

    But no-one underestimates the difficulties.

    "I have never seen such a complex, difficult and dangerous environment in 40 years of working for the UN," remarked veteran envoy Staffan de Mistura.

    "It won't be perfect, but it will be an Afghan future and we must help them to achieve that."

  3. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

    May 10, 2010
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    Bihar, BanGalore , India
    Leaders Renew Vows of Support for Afghanistan

    KABUL, Afghanistan — The United States, European and other foreign leaders met here Tuesday to pledge anew their support for Afghanistan as they committed to complete transition of security and budgeting responsibility to the Afghan government by 2014. They acknowledged that neither the public in their own countries nor the Afghan people had much patience left.
    President Hamid Karzai promised to make concrete efforts in reducing corruption and find a way to end the fighting in his country — areas he has pledged to improve in the past. He painted a picture of a country that could flourish, lifting its “people from poverty to prosperity and from insecurity to stability.”

    “Our vision is to be the peaceful meeting place of civilizations,” he said in an address. “Our location in the center of the new Silk Road makes us a convergence point of regional and global economic interests.”

    Whether Afghanistan can get there without an enormous infusion of further foreign aid and a significant presence of foreign troops seems doubtful — at least for the next few years. That point was underscored by the vague language around the timeline for handing over security responsibility.

    The 2014 year date, which Mr. Karzai outlined last year, is nonbinding and essentially unenforceable, and much depends on how and when security responsibility will be transferred, for instance whether it will be transferred province by province or district by district. That will be developed later this year, according to the document.

    Transition to Afghan control is also the exit plan for NATO troops and member countries have differing senses of urgency. The western European democracies with the most troops — Britain, France and Germany — are under great popular pressure to reduce their presence while the United States, which has the heaviest military presence, is somewhat more focused on how to give the best chance to its counter-insurgency strategy.

    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton acknowledged the unpopularity of the war in remarks to foreign leaders gathered in a large conference room at the Afghan Interior Ministry, saying that that winning popular support for the continued mission here, given the relatively limited progress so far, would be a challenge.

    “We know the road ahead will not be easy,” Mrs. Clinton said. “Citizens of many nations represented here, including my own, wonder whether success is even possible—and if so, whether we all have the commitment to achieve it.”

    She pledged to answer those doubts with actions. She also endeavored to reduce somewhat the significance of the July 2011 date, which President Obama set in his speech outlining his Afghan policy last fall as the date when he would begin to bring troops home.

    “The July 2011 date captures both our sense of urgency and the strength of our resolve,” Mrs. Clinton said. “The transition process is too important to push off indefinitely. But this date is the start of a new phase, not the end of our involvement.”

    Mrs. Clinton tried to dispel concerns about the transition, saying the Afghans had presented the most detailed plans yet for how to hand off control to Afghan security forces.

    “Today was a real turning point,” Mrs. Clinton said.

    However, the overall significance of the conference was hard to gauge because much of the final communiqué was a list of boards and commissions to be created, laws to be drafted and enforced and schedules to be fleshed out. The same themes, if not always the exact pledges, have been sounded many times before by Mr. Karzai’s government to little effect.

    Mr. Karzai spoke only briefly about the reintegration and reconciliation with the Taliban although it is a major effort of his government and of considerable concern both to many Afghans and to NATO troops who are fighting here. The sparse commentary seemed to signal that there was still little agreement on exactly how to proceed after months of meetings and consultations both within the Afghan government and with American, United Nations and NATO allies.

    In some respects, the most significant elements were in what was not said or what occurred during behind-the-scenes meetings. Mrs. Clinton met with Afghan women leaders before the conference began and heard their concerns that their interests would be left behind in the peace effort with the Taliban.

    Fouzia Kofi, a former deputy speaker in the Afghan Parliament, said she was concerned by recent signals from Mr. Karzai’s government. If the reconciliation process is mishandled, she warned, it could “take the country back hundreds of years.”

    “We need to make sure that not only we are protected, but also our children,” Ms. Kofi said.

    Arezo Qani, who works with disadvantaged women in northern Afghanistan, expressed fears that rearming local militias, something the United States has pushed, would also threaten women. And she said women needed to be consulting in the drafting of new laws.
    Mrs. Clinton said protecting women’s rights was a “personal commitment of mine.” While she said the United States was open to an Afghan-led reconciliation, “it can’t come at the cost of women’s lives,” she said.

    The security transition timetable, though not the main focus of this meeting, is perhaps the most significant element for NATO leaders most of whom will face election challenges well before 2014. The European countries are looking for a more concrete withdrawal plan for their troops that they can advertise to their voters, while the United States military leadership, is hewing to a “conditions-based” approach that allows them to slow down in areas where the insurgency appears more tenacious or where Afghan troops and police appear to have inadequate capabilities.

    The Iranian Foreign Minister used the conference as an opportunity to get in some digs at the foreign forces. The criticism came just a few weeks after the United Nations Security Council voted to enforce sanctions against Iran for failing to halt its nuclear program.

    “The presence and increase in the number of foreign forces is one of the factors in the insecurity, violence and dissatisfaction of the public,” said Manouchehr Mottaki, Iran’s Foreign Minister.

    A moment later the United Nations Special Representative to Afghanistan, Staffan de Mistura, interrupted and told him to get to the point. On Monday, the new American and NATO commander, Gen. David H. Petraeus, and the NATO secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, traveled to southern Afghanistan together.

    According to one NATO official, they have had “frank discussions.”

    “There are indications that the timeline and what constitutes the conditions for transition are possibly different in terms of what NATO is thinking and what Petraeus may be thinking as he settles into an understanding of what he is dealing with in this insurgency,” said the NATO official, who, like several other diplomats and officials interviewed on Monday, refused to be identified by name because of the delicacy of the issue.

    But another official from the American-led NATO coalition insisted that General Petraeus and Mr. Rasmussen were not in disagreement. “They see eye to eye,” that official said, “and anyone who reports otherwise clearly has missed key conversations, which is understandable, because some have been one on one.”

    A Western diplomat in Kabul praised what he described as General Petraeus’s effort to “bring a sense of realism” to the debate. “He’s being very careful, especially in the first month, to not give a sense of expectations and promises that he will then not be able to deliver,” the diplomat said.

    An administration official added that the general was focusing on the evaluation of the Afghan war due at year’s end. “He’s got four and a half months until the review, and he’ll brook no dissent,” the official said.
  4. Oracle

    Oracle New Member

    Mar 31, 2010
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    Bangalore, India
    Terrorism cannot be compartmentalised: India

    The complete speech of External Affairs Minister S M Krishna at the international conference on Afghanistan.

    Hon'ble Co-Chairman,

    I am privileged to address this august gathering, assembled today at a crucial stage of Afghanistan's contemporary history to demonstrate solidarity with the Government of Afghanistan for its long-term stability and reconstruction. We congratulate the Government of Afghanistan in holding this first-ever International Conference on Afghanistan in Kabul since 2001 with grace and efficiency.

    India and Afghanistan are historic friends. Our two countries enjoy a relationship based on history, civilization, trade and cultural exchanges and shared values and interests stretching back thousands of years. India is committed to the unity, integrity and independence of Afghanistan underpinned by democracy and cohesive pluralism and free from external interference. India has contributed to these goals through our Development Partnership which is implemented entirely in accordance with the priorities of the Afghan Government and people. Our Assistance programmes are spread all over Afghanistan and cover all sectors of development: humanitarian, infrastructural, institution and capacity building, small-scale quick gestation projects, and agriculture. The ultimate aim of our assistance is to strengthen the capacity of the Afghan state and people to stand on their own feet in the areas of governance and services for the Afghan people. This Conference, with Afghan Government's determination to take full responsibility for Afghanistan's own development, security and governance, and the international community's willingness to realign international assistance in accordance with Afghan priorities and action plans, is a big step in that direction.

    Afghanistan's stability and economic development depend a lot on its neighbours and the region as a whole. Afghanistan's greatest economic potential perhaps resides in its immense potential as a trade, transport and energy hub, and as a bridge linking Central, West, South Asia and the Gulf. Its prosperity also depends on the consumer market of nearly 1.5 billion people in the South-Asian sub-continent. The recent reports of Afghanistan's great mineral wealth also open up possibilities for mining and investment. But for Afghanistan to realize its full potential in these areas, Afghanistan's neighbours need to come together to forge greater regional cooperation and facilitate trade and transit. Growing economic inter-dependence will also help in weaning disaffected youth away from insurgency and militancy and in creating a zone of co-prosperity in the region. We support the wishes of the Government of Afghanistan to take the lead in this direction.

    India also supports Afghanistan's efforts towards peace and reintegration. But, for such an effort to succeed, it must be fully Afghan-led and Afghan-owned and carry all sections of Afghanistan's population together as well as abide by the redlines agreed to at the London Conference, i.e., giving up violence, cutting off all links with terrorism - whether jehadi or state-sponsored - and accepting the democratic and pluralistic values of the Afghan Constitution, including women's rights. The international community must learn lessons from past experiences at negotiating with fundamentalist and extremist organizations and ensure that any peace process is conducted in an inclusive and transparent manner. Adequate capacity of the Afghan security forces and other Afghan institutions is a sine qua non for protecting Afghanistan's sovereignty, plurality and democracy. Gains of the last nine years stand to be squandered if this aspect does not receive the attention that it deserves as the international community ponders its next steps regarding Afghanistan.

    The international community should also ensure that there is no selectivity in dealing with terrorism. Terrorism cannot be compartmentalised. As President Karzai said today, it is the vicious common enemy we face. Today, one cannot distinguish between Al Qaeda and plethora of terrorist organisations which have imbibed the goals and techniques of Al Qaeda. It is, therefore, essential to ensure that support, sustenance and sanctuaries for terrorist organisations from outside Afghanistan are ended forthwith.

    The determination exhibited by the Afghan Government to take charge of its own destiny and future for Afghan ownership and leadership and the solidarity demonstrated by the international community in supporting this process politically, economically and in the sphere of security, augurs well for the future. My country reiterates its commitment to stability, development and prosperity of the Afghan people and looks forward to working together closely with the Government of Afghanistan and the international community in realising these objectives.

    Thank you, Mr. Co-Chairman for your patient hearing.

    July 20, 2010

  5. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

    Mar 24, 2009
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    Badi Badi baatein, idhar udhar ki baatein vagera vagera.

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