Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

US Support for Afghanistan Continues

As the international troops have been withdrawing from the country, it would be a challenging task for Afghanistan to stand on its own and face the challenges. It would, definitely, require the support of the regional and international partners in its journey to self-sustainability. US has been the largest supporter for Afghanistan and it would continue to do so in the times to come. US support would be crucial for the peace-building and development purposes for Afghanistan, and US seems committed to support the country in the post-withdrawal era.
A couple of days earlier Obama administration proposed USD 2.5 billion in financial assistance to Afghanistan. US Secretary of State, John Kerry said the aid would reinforce the country’s security and development. He also added that the proposed assistance would help the Afghan government tackle corruption, counter the influence of extremists and terrorists, strengthen civil society and promote health, education, economic growth and good governance.
As US President Barack Obama sent his last annual budget to the Congress, he reaffirmed America’s long term commitment to Afghanistan and said that the budget continues to support long-term national security and economic interests in Afghanistan and helps sustain political, economic, and security gains in the country as the US draws down its forces and assistance levels gradually decline.
The State Department said the 2017 Overseas Contingency Operation (OCO) of $672.1 million request continued transitioning to a more self-sustaining diplomatic mission, focused on diplomatic engagement, public outreach, and empowering the Government of Afghanistan in its ongoing efforts toward self-sustainment. Maintaining the development gains made over the last 13 years in health, education, and gender remained a priority, it said, pledging to partner with Afghanistan in its ongoing efforts to bolster economic growth, strengthen the rule of law and fight corruption.
Proposing $1.027 billion for Afghanistan under OCO’s Economic Support Fund, the State Department said this prioritized areas critical to sustaining gains of the last decade and objectives of the government while continuing to lay the foundation for sustained economic, political, and social sector development.
Civilian assistance programmes would focus increasingly on long-term development and the critical task of making Afghanistan more self-reliant and sustainable, it said.
This proposed assistance seems promising; however, real efforts should be made so that this assistance is able to be utilized for its true purpose. So far, Afghanistan has received a great deal of support and assistance from US and other countries but all of that has never been used for the restoration of peace and development purposes. Corruption, however, has been dominant in devouring most of that assistance, while the common people still face poverty, unemployment and insecurity. Mostly, the support and assistance that were meant for changing the lives of the people of Afghanistan could only change the financial position of certain authorities in the country, while the poor people have kept on being miserable. Therefore, real, dedicated and honest efforts should be made both by the US and Afghan authorities to make the assistance reach to the common people of Afghanistan and change their lives.
As far as security is concerned, it would definitely be a challenge and the assistance should be directed towards enabling and equipping the Afghan forces in such a way that they are able to defend the country on their own. Strengthening Afghan Air Force and training and equipping the Special Forces would be vital. Moreover, making sure that there is enough budget for the salaries of Afghan security forces is also very important. Training and development would be vital but at the same time it is necessary to understand that the spring season is approaching, which would mean a surge in Taliban’s offensive; therefore, direct supervision of Afghan forces is imperative so that it can get through the season triumphant.
The efforts regarding the peace talks with Taliban must also be multiplied so that there is a permanent solution to the war against them. The assistance in this regard must be focused on pressurizing different stakeholders to come to the negotiation table and must pursue the attitude of peace and tranquility. Currently, the efforts of peace negotiation with Taliban facilitated by Pakistan and monitored by US and China is a great opportunity and must be pursued with full support and assistance.
On the development side, the list for Afghanistan is very long. There are myriads of economic and social problems that the country is going through. However, any assistance in this regard must be directed towards good governance. Handling corruption must be on the top of the list. Then there should be efforts to deal with two basic problems; poverty and unemployment. As long as these issues persist, the opportunities are limited to work on the other issues and solve them successfully.
There is no doubt in the fact that Afghanistan requires the support of the US; however, it is important that this support should be directed towards the right targets and must be pursued with true intentions and honesty.