Towards transition

An international conference convened to discuss a roadmap aiming at ‘Afghanisation’ of Afghanistan’s development and security has endorsed proposals that have crucial impact on the transition. President Hamid Karzai’s goal that Afghan forces should lead and conduct security operations across the country by 2014 has been endorsed. His plan to engage in talks with the insurgents aimed at integrating them into the government has also been endorsed in principle. With regard to international aid, the conference has decided that 50 per cent of all aid will be channelled through the Afghan government as against only 25 per cent now. Aid agencies and development organisations have been reluctant to channel funds through the government because of rampant corruption of officials. This, however, had negative fallout. It undermined the role of the Afghan state in development and reconstruction. The conference has taken a step to correct that. Many of the promises made at the conference have been articulated before. Whether this conference will be historic as touted by the participants will depend crucially on fulfilment of promises made here.

India has rightly stressed its support for an Afghan-led and owned peace process. However, it is justifiably concerned over the real possibility of the Haqqani networks clout in the government growing. Such a development has serious consequences for India and would be disastrous for Afghanistan as well as the region. Unlike other countries which question the capability of Afghans to take charge of their affairs, India’s worries stem from Pakistan’s persistent efforts to put in place a regime in Kabul that is friendly with Pakistan. Past experience indicates that such regimes have brought immense suffering to the Afghan people and destabilised the region.

Afghanisation of Afghanistan’s development and security is important. It cannot happen if puppet-masters across the border in Pakistan determine who rules in Kabul. The international community must bear this in mind as it looks for exit strategies. Bruised by its difficult experience in Afghanistan, it seems to be anxious to wash its hands off this turbulent country rather than ensuring that the country and people are secure before it leaves. The Haqqani network is a threat not just to India or Afghanistan but to the region and the world. Leaving Afghanistan in its hands even marginally will push the country back to civil war.

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