ISLAMABAD: Islamabad is considering a proposal by Washington to get Muslim countries to share the financial burden of the US and Nato forces stationed in Afghanistan, a foreign ministry source said on Thursday.
The US plan proposes that all Muslim countries, including Pakistan, should contribute a sizeable amount every year to the “Afghanistan Security Fund” to help sustain the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), including policing facilities, till 2014 and possibly beyond.
The US and Nato have expressed their desire for the international community to participate in efforts to uproot terrorism from Afghanistan by donating finances, the official said on condition of anonymity, while explaining the aims and objectives of the proposal.
Pakistan, according to the official, is willing to join the international effort for the peace and stability in Afghanistan, but warns the country will have to consider the proposal with “extra care”. “We are already facing the wrath of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and other militants for supporting the US in the global fight against terrorism,” the official said.
At the 2012 Summit in Chicago in May, Nato leaders, together with the Afghans, will decide what additional support needs to be given to the ANSF to help them carry out their fundamental tasks. The leaders will also discuss the status of the Afghan forces, plans for training them and other related issues during the conference.
European states appear increasingly unwilling to foot the bill for Nato ground forces stationed in Afghanistan, a role that some of them carried for roughly a decade. Nato Secretary General Andres Fogh Rasmussen, in his annual report for 2011, admitted that alliance member countries are reducing their financial share for the budget.
He said in his report – which is the first of its kind – that effects of the current economic crisis on the defence spending have been considerable. In 2011, the annual defense expenditures of 18 out of the 28 allies were lower than they had been in 2008, the report revealed.
“Further reductions have been announced or can be anticipated and, this too, at a time when the defence spending and military capabilities of a number of countries outside the Nato area are increasing.’’
Meanwhile, Australia’s National Times recently reported: “The US has said at least $4.1 billion a year will be needed to support the Afghan military and police alone, but after years of considerable spending on Afghanistan, some European countries are keen to scale back their support.”
Despite the financial crisis, the Nato secretary general has announced that the Chicago Summit is determined to show its commitment to a long-term partnership with Afghanistan, together with the whole international community, beyond 2014. “Afghanistan constitutes the alliance’s most significant operational commitment to date,” he asserted.
The New York Post has reported that “foreign governments now provide almost all the money to fund the Afghan forces, from paying salaries to equipment and training. The cost of roughly $7 billion a year now is expected to drop to about $4 billion in 2014.”
According to the New York Times, the Afghan government plans to drawdown Afghan security forces in two years.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2012.