The Kabul Conference

“I remain determined that our Afghan national security forces will be responsible for all military and law enforcement operations throughout our country by 2014,”
Karzai told representatives from 70 organisation and states.

By: Bassam Javed

As a sequel to the International Conference on Afghanistan in London on 28 January this year, around seventy representatives from around the globe will gather again in Kabul on 20 July to have an appraisal on the progress made in light of the decisions taken therein in London. The delegates would represent their respective governments, international/regional organizations and financial institutions to deliberate and endorse an Afghan government led plan for improved governance, development, security and stability in Afghanistan.

Since the London Conference a lot of development has taken place in Afghanistan. The highlight has been the ‘Afghan Jirga’ on 2nd June that reassured many Afghans about the aim of reconciliation and that the effort really does need their support. The special representative of the UN Secretary General while briefing the Security Council on the situation in Afghanistan last month emphasized the importance of maintaining resilience in the year ahead, with events like Peace Jirga, the Kabul Conference itself as a follow-up of the London Conference and September’s parliamentary elections, all indicated that major political aims streamlined for Afghanistan were broadly on track. Security during the conference will be one issue that consistently remains under review by Afghan Army Corp 111 based in Kabul, Afghan Police, NATO and ISAF.

The forth coming parliamentary elections coming at the heels of the much touted fraudulent presidential elections have gathered much significance as they would gauge the political awakening of Afghans. Concurrently, The United Nations has worked with the international community in charting out the ‘implementation guidelines’ for the elections. The guidelines have already their impact where we have recently seen a change of personalities in the Election Commission’s hierarchy. Similarly, the guidelines would ensure that 68 seats for the women are accounted for and that two international commissioners would be appointed to oversee the complaints with an authority to concur the results or otherwise. The number of candidates that have filed their nominations is quite convincing of the political reawakening as 2677 candidates including 400 Afghan women contest for a seat in the parliament.

A series of meetings of the foreign based envoys in Afghanistan have also been held to deliberate the outcome of various efforts put in by the International community to stabilize Afghanistan. First it was held in Abu Dhabi in January this year where 30 envoys represented their countries and the second one took place in the Spanish capital with the same number of envoys. The donor countries at the Spanish moot called Afghanistan to ensure that the funds donated by them do not end up in wrong hands. They also desired the reconciliation plan ‘up and running’ before the Kabul conference to show progress. There are a lot of expectations from the forth coming Conference.
The year 2010 as such has been unarguably touted to be the most crucial year for the future of Afghanistan. With the passage of time since 2001, the understanding of Afghan dynamics has made the international stakeholders in Afghanistan realize that no military solution will solve the Afghan crises. Instead of accumulating endless number of military boots on the ground to launch an offensive in Qandahar the best strategy for the NATO and ISAF would be to shift their focus in enabling Afghans create a vision for Afghanistan that could be pursued by themselves. The Conference would be attended by the foreign ministers including the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon besides other foreign ministers and high officials. The main objective of the Conference would be to foster confidence in the public contract between the Afghan Government and its people in delivering social and economic improvement. However, there are a few countries that have feasted and made hay in Afghanistan while the NATO and ISAF concentrated to stabilize Afghanistan. India for one that will still throw spanners in the proceedings of the conference by trying to dent international communities resolve to stabilize Afghanistan and hand-over the security responsibilities to Afghans before a phased withdrawal of US and NATO forces commences. Having managed to implement its agenda in Afghanistan while NATO and ISAF forces sought and fought the Taliban, India now fears that it would not be able to implement its complete agenda to destabilize Pakistan using the Afghan soil, if an early withdrawal takes place. Taking a cue from the American phrase of being either with us or against us, India will try to press participating countries to choose between the two countries. If it is Pakistan they will not get India’s massive defense orders and a share in its booming economy which has always been used to gain political and diplomatic advantages.

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