Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, January 19th, 2018

Brussels Conference on Afghanistan

Brussels Conference on Afghanistan is going on in Belgium while the security situation in Afghanistan is getting more serious. The Conference is being cohosted by Afghanistan and the European Union. Representatives from 70 countries and 20 international organization and agencies are also participating in it. European Commission is going to announce new financial assistances to the Afghan government in the form of a state-building contract. The gathering will also provide a platform for the Kabul administration to set out its vision and track record on reform. For the international community, it will be the opportunity to signal sustained political and financial support to Afghan peace, state-building and development. President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Dr. Abdullah Abdullah are representing Afghanistan in the conference.
Currently, it is very difficult to see clear prospects of peace building and development in the country as Taliban have gained control of several districts. According to recent reports, they have taken the control of Kunduz city and Khanshin district in Helmand province. At present, they are in fierce battle with Afghan security forces in Kunduz, Baghlan and Faryab. Moreover, there are no prospects of any peace deal between the Afghan government and Taliban.
On the other hand, development sector is also facing huge challenges. Poverty, unemployment and crimes are widespread and the support and assistance that were meant for the improvement of the sector do not seem to have achieved their objectives properly.
In its first agreement in the margins of the Conference, European Commission signed a State-building contract with Afghanistan on Tuesday. The agreement was signed by the Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, and the Afghan Minister of Finance, Eklil Ahmad Hakimi in the presence of President Ashraf Ghani.
This first State-building contract for Afghanistan will provide up to €200 million ($224 million USD) in direct budget support over a two-year period from 2017 onwards. It will assist the Government of Afghanistan in defining its own strategic development priorities and policies, as outlined in the new Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework.
It is important that the assistance and support that are going to reach Afghanistan in different forms should reach to the people who really deserve it. The best way to judge the effectiveness of the assistance is to observe the changes in the lives of the poor and needy people. If their standards of living remain the same and they keep on suffering from social and economic problems, particularly, from poverty and unemployment, the assistance could not be thought of having served its purpose. If the lives of the people of Afghanistan are observed from the same perspective, it would be difficult to find evident changes and thus it would be difficult to see the outcome of the billions of dollars of in previous assistance.
A large portion of assistance fund was basically devoured by corruption. The ones who benefitted from the opportunity now have luxurious lives while most of the people still suffer because of the lack of basic requirements.
However, European Commission has said that the State-building contract will support more effective budgetary management and the fight against corruption. A robust policy dialogue on reform progress in public policies, the macroeconomic framework, public financial management, as well as on transparency and oversight, will be put in place with the Afghan Government and determine the payments under this contract.
Another important factor to consider is that Afghanistan cannot keep on depending on other countries forever. It has to stand on its own and must be able to take advantage of the assistance in a sense that it builds infra-structures and invests in better opportunities. Instead of thinking about how Afghan officials can best present a case in front of international community for more and more support every time, they must spend more time in designing strategies to make the country stand on its own. Self-reliance would be the only way through which Afghanistan can guarantee its survival.  
In this regard, the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework will be presented at the main event of the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan. It will provide a credible strategic framework for Afghanistan's development towards increasing self-reliance. And, this self-reliance should not only focus security; rather, the social, economic and political systems should also be kept in consideration.

Moreover, Afghanistan should also ensure that it is able to protect the developments or achievements that are made regarding human rights and particularly women rights. Maintaining the status quo, in this regard, would not be an achievement. There has to be considerable development for bringing women in social and political lives and providing them facilities and opportunities as citizens of the country. National Unity Government does not have great achievements in this respect and it would be very difficult for it to defend itself in this regard. There should be more pressure on the relevant government institutions in this regard to play their better role in the protection of rights of women and improvement in their lives.