The International Contact Group (ICG) meeting regarding Afghanistan was held in Kabul on Monday, June 27, 2011. This meeting included representative and organizations from more than 50 countries that are somehow related to Afghanistan. Basically, the idea of formation of ICG for Afghanistan was presented by former US envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Hollbrroke, in 2008. The intention was to include donor countries that have been supporting Afghanistan through aid and assistance, regional countries and the countries that have their troops stationed in Afghanistan and some other international and national organizations related to Afghanistan so that they through proper co-operation should keep on assisting Afghanistan and Pakistan in combating terrorism and figuring out long term strategies regarding the circumstances in Afghanistan both during the transition and after it.
This particular meeting mentioned in the beginning of the article happens to be the 11th meeting of the Group. The meeting was held to discuss the ways to strengthen the co-ordination among the donor countries so as to face the growing challenges in Afghanistan collectively, insist for the regional co-operation and the ways to carry on the transition, including troops' withdrawal and growing concerns of terrorism and the post withdrawal scenario.
An important aspect of this group is the involvement of the regional countries for seeking out solutions to the issues concerning Afghanistan. Definitely, the regional countries are the ones that are immediately affected by both favorable and unfavorable changes. The circumstances in Afghanistan, including expanding network of terrorism, production and trafficking of drugs and displacement of refugees, have been influencing neighboring countries in some way or the other. Further, the war against terrorism in Afghanistan has close connection with war against terrorism in Pakistan. Because the terrorist networks have been illegally using the penetration of Pak-Afghan border as a tactic to escape growing pressure from the security forces. Moreover, the presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan has been bothering the neighboring countries and now their withdrawal also concerns them to large extent. Therefore, the collective efforts of both the regional and international countries through the platform of ICG is a positive sign for better promotion of peace and tranquility in the region and in wider perspective for the international peace.
It goes without doubt that there are serious concerns about the situation in Afghanistan after the troops' withdrawal. It seems quiet sure now that Americans want to leave Afghanistan, as it can not carry on indefinitely with so much pressure from within the country and the demands of the regional countries in South Asia. 2014 is the deadline for Afghanistan so that it can prepare itself to shoulder the burden of the security and administration of the country. No doubt, there are concerns but it has to carry on, some way or the other. Through out these years of war against terrorism and Taliban, Afghanistan has been through both successes and failures, yet the victory has not been so decisive.
There are many fronts where a large portion of work has yet to be done. Starting from the capability of Afghan forces to counter the growing forces of terrorism to the issue of Political reconciliation with Taliban, one can count myriads of challenges ahead of us, which will test the patience and consistence of not only the people of Afghanistan but the international community as well. And international community in particular has to pay special attention to these challenges. The claims that have been made in the ICG meeting have to be fulfilled appropriately. The donor countries have ensured Afghanistan that they are not going to leave Afghanistan alone among the challenges even after 2014.Germanspecial envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Michael Steiner, told media, "From all speakers we heard today in the International Contact Group (ICG), we heard that international community will stay with Afghanistan even after the security transition is completed." And "I think we have a realistic strategy and with this strategy we will cope with the issues and challenges and especially as we have agreement with international community, the engagement of international community is not over in 2014 but continues effectively,"and on the same occasion U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Marc Grossman, also emphasized in his speech that Washington and international community must prolong their commitments to the war-torn Afghanistan even beyond 2014.
These claims seem to be very supporting but they are yet to be transferred to reality. Previously, there have been such claims and there have been considerable flow of economic support from donor countries to Afghanistan, still there are major drawbacks even in the sectors that have been funded, and Afghanistan's basic infra-structure, which have been the reason of all the evils being reproduced, is yet to be changed greatly. The German diplomat mentioned that the international community will stay engaged in Afghanistan in economic, development, capacity building and infrastructure but also in encouraging the private investors. And these are, at the moment, the most crying needs of time.
Another important agenda that has to be a part of the engagement of the donor countries is the political reconciliation with Taliban. For that more engagement of Afghan government has to be facilitated and this must be kept in consideration that any sort of reconciliation must not be in the favor of Taliban gaining so much power so as to promote the fundamentalist traditions once again in the country and undo all the developments that have been made after so much hard work.Another important issue that has to be kept in consideration by the donor countries is the process of accountability regarding the growing corruption in the region. Without eradicating corruption, it would be very difficult to uproot terrorism, develop healthy infra-structure, provide support to the most needy in the back ward areas, strengthen administrative units and have an effective reconciliation process.
Definitely, America and international world can not leave alone Afghanistan trembling among the growing challenges. They really have to help it out by joining hands with it. At the same instance, the Afghans must not forget that they are on the verge of transition that can take them either towards a better life or towards further misery, and they have to make better choice this time. The whole world can not stand by them all the time; they have to cash the opportunities instantly.