Kabul moot looks to reintegrate Taliban

The world conference which will focus on reintegration and reconciliation with Taliban is scheduled to open on Tuesday.


Qaiser Mehmood Butt July 19, 2010

ISLAMABAD: With its main emphasis on reintegration and reconciliation with Taliban and other armed opposition minus al Qaeda, a world conference is scheduled to open on Tuesday (July 20) in Kabul.

To be opened by President Hamid Karzai, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the conference will be co-chaired by Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul and UN Special Representative Staffan de Mistura.

US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton besides foreign ministers of China, Japan, France, Russia, Germany, Australia, United Kingdom, Pakistan and India will attend the meeting. The Nato Secretary General Rasmussen will also attend the moot.

The conference is expected to outline future plans relating to the development, governance and security of the war-ravaged country.

First of its kind in the history of Afghanistan the moot, it is believed, will bolster international support for Karzai’s plans to reintegrate Taliban combatants into mainstream Afghan polity.

Afghan watchers view the conference as a bid by Kabul government officials to urge the world to start spending the already pledged billions of development dollars in the country.

The Afghan conference brings together representatives of more than 70 partner countries, international and regional organisations and financial institutions to deliberate and endorse an Afghan Government-led plan for improved development, governance, and stability.

The July 20 conference is a follow-up to the London summit of January 28, 2010 when donors pledged some $160 million for Afghanistan’s plan to reintegrate and create jobs for those Taliban fighters who renounce violence. The previous conferences on the subject were organised at Abu Dhabi and Madrid.

President Karzai plans to ask for 50 per cent of the nearly $13 billion pledged by international donors for reconstruction over the next two years to be channeled through his government. The call for more Afghan control over the aid money follows allegations that Karzai has failed to tackle endemic corruption in his administration.

Donors have already conveyed through the UN that they would like to be assured of anti-graft guarantees by the government before doubling the slice of aid paid directly into the Kabul administration.

Officials from Nato and US, which have a combined 140,000 troops in the country, have blamed corruption for pushing many Afghans towards the insurgent ranks and prolonging the war. Afghanistan was ranked the second most corrupt state in the world by Transparency International.

More than $40 billion have been given for aid projects in the past nine years, yet millions of Afghans still live in poverty and unemployment is highest in the region. The international community has spent heavily on roads, energy, and education, but the nation is still one of the poorest in the world.

Critics say much of the aid money has been lost to incompetence or corruption, while Karzai says that a large amount of money was spent directly by international contractors or aid agencies outside the control of his government.

Karzai hopes Japan will host the next international conference to advance the Afghan peace process, as a follow-up of the July 20 Kabul moot, to discuss the reconstruction of the war-battered country. World powers expressed their support on January 28 for Afghanistan’s desire to channel more international aid through the state budget, but warned that there must be tangible results in the fight against corruption in the country.

A cause of anxiety for New Delhi, the conference of international donors in Kabul will review reconciliation moves between the Hamid Karzai regime and the Taliban, Times of India remarked. India has reiterated its concerns many times about the reintegration proposal as it fears it may end up propping up anti-India Taliban elements back in the saddle, in a power-sharing arrangement in Kabul. India conveyed its unease about the Taliban power-sharing deal when Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Ekil Ahmad Hamiki was on a visit to Delhi last week.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 19th, 2010.

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