Aid to Afghanistan

Daily: Pakistan Observer
Date: 16.05.04

Amongst the famous relationships is a donor-recipient relationship. Through the glasses of
Capitalism, a donation is not benevolence but a component of reciprocity. That is to say,
the other words for the relationship are give and take reciprocally.

In this bilateral relationship, each of the parties tries to manoeuvre the situation to highlight
other’s weaknesses to one’s benefits. This is what happened in the recent sixty nations
Berlin Conference (March 31-April 01) for economic donation to Afghanistan for its
reconstruction and rehabilitation.

In the past, the Europe, the US, and other developed countries of the world hardly
considered Afghanistan worthy of their economic help, owing to its war ravaged condition or
economic deprivation. Now, they are concerned with Afghanistan because of two main
reasons. First, the threat of poppy cultivation and the resultant spread of the opium
products, while secondly the threat of existence and the consequent dissemination of the
Islamic fundamentalism. They perceive that both the aforementioned threats hold potential
to spill over and subsequently diffuse into their own geographical boundaries to affect
them. Hence, better is to curtail and curb at their points of origin.  

To that effect, the recipient raised hue and cry in the Berlin Conference by saying that
Afghanistan was poised to become “a heaven for drug and terrorism” —referring to both of
the aforementioned threats. Resultantly, $ 27.5 billion were demanded spanning a period of
seven years to address the twin menace, through a manner of about $ 4 billion per year.  
However, the donors were also sharp, they pledged only $ 8.2 billion for a period of three
years (March 2004 to March 2007) in 4:3:1 ratio for the respective years. In this equation,
about $ 4 billion have been pledged for the fiscal year March 2004 to March 2005. Hence,
the immediate need (short term) of the economic assistance through a manner of per year
requirement has been addressed. The same is the reason of the happiness of Hamid

In return, Karzai is supposed to perform three duties: restoration of peace and security;
attainment of economic self-sufficiency; and accomplishment of political stability in
Afghanistan. For the same, the help of the UN and NATO, besides various non-
governmental organizations (NGOs), have been available since December 2001.

The first objective, that is, the restoration of peace and security has to be acquired through
the methods of disarmament and demobilization of the warring militia and by reintegrating
them into the newly constituted Afghan National Security Forces (Police and Army), which
ought to be better trained and well equipped. Contrarily, hitherto, there is still direct reliance
on the UN’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), comprising 6500 troops and
presently led by NATO. Karzai’s request to enhance the number of the foreign forces was
declined in the Berlin Conference. One of the reasons was the UNSC Resolution 1386
(December 20, 2001) that enjoins upon Afghans to take care of their own security
arrangements, especially in areas other than Kabul — in light of the requests forwarded
through the Bonn Agreement (December 05, 2001). In this regard, the progress to
establish the security forces by the ISAF is very slow. Resultantly, the center’s writ has
been confined to Kabul. Additionally, in parallel, the US led ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’
(OEF) is also underway to meet its own objectives. Hitherto, there are not encouraging
reports coming out from there too.

The second objective, that is, the attainment of the economic self-sufficiency has to be
achieved through the methods of generating alternative economic resources by focusing
on agriculture, livestock, small industry, and trade. For the same, the prerequisite is to lay
down the basic infrastructure (road, railway, water channels, and communication etc.),
besides de-mining of the country. However, the development in this sector is also negligible
despite efforts of Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs). Rather, the earning from the
opium trade amounts to $ 2 billion, which is almost half of what has been pledged to Karzai
for the fiscal year.

The third objective, that is, the accomplishment of political stability has to be met through
the methods of introduction of democratic institutions and by holding elections in
September instead of June 2004 — in order to materialize the new Afghan Constitution
adopted by the Constitutional Loya Jirga on January 4, 2004. For the same, the
precondition is to get the Afghan voters registered with the UN. Since the last December,
only 1.8 million out of 10.5 million eligible voters have been registered. The problem is more
in the Southern and Eastern provinces of Afghanistan. Moreover, the Afghan are still
refugees staying in both neighbouring and far countries of the world.

The major dilemma for the whole scenario is still the Pushtoon exclusion as a discarded
section. To that reference, the major impediment is the interpretation of the UNSC
Resolution 1390 (January 16, 2002), which condemns Taliban (besides the al-Qaeda). The
same resolution dissipates the spirit of democracy to include all the sections into
democratic fold impartially, as all the Pushtoon are being considered Talibans. Further, the
meaning of the words “all Afghans” (by offering a brighter future), as used in preamble of
the Berlin Declaration, has to be elaborated especially in the light of the UNSC Resolution
1390. Nevertheless, presently, if the Transitional Authority is with out an appropriate
Pushtoon representation, the composition of the future Afghan government can also be
foreseen, besides its eventual fate.

In Afghanistan’s context, it is still to be seen whether restoration of peace and security and
attainment of economic opportunities will be provided before election or afterwards? In
either way, these will act as pull factors for Afghans to settle in their own country. For that
matter, the remaining approximately five months time duration seems to be quite short to
deliver the requisite goods to hold free and fair credible elections.

The failure or further delay in holding election in September is bound to produce strong
repercussions on Afghanistan, the region (including Pakistan) and the globe (including the
US and UK). The same may erode the credibility of the installed government and reduce
the chances of future pledges and such donor conferences “to stay involved” for long term.
Moreover, it can put an immediate devastating effect on the campaign of Bush for the
November 2004 election in the US.

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