Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, March 24th, 2018

Bonn II; A Doubtful Success


Bonn II; A Doubtful Success

On the verge of Bonn II Conference on Afghanistan, there are serious concerns about how the period will end by 2014 when international troops are supposed to completely withdraw from the country. President Karzai left for Bonn II Conference on Friday while a pile of undone commitments remain on shoulders of his government.

After the very generous decade for Afghanistan, the international community has expressed anger over level of improvements in the country in areas of strengthening security, economic development, poverty reduction and institution building.

Since the very first days following ouster of Taliban from power, bulk of the funding is wasted and Afghan government agencies remain low capacitated. An overall picture of security, economic development and stability suggest that the to-do-list for the government of Afghanistan and its international allies remain longer than predicted a decade ago.

The Conference is going to hit another milestone on Afghanistan issues and the future of international cooperation to help it grow stronger and more democratic. Once NATO troops have abandoned the country, Afghanistan will no longer enjoy the same level of aids that has been pouring here since the very first days after the US-led international forces attack.

Several warnings were given to the president Karzai government and its international partners over wastage of time and resources. But little was taken serious. A decade has past since the mission began here with billions of dollars spent without any strategy.

A World Bank study released last month said Afghanistan was likely to need around $7 billion a year from the international community to help pay its security and other bills long after foreign troops leave at the end of 2014.

Going to meet delegates from more than ninety countries, President Karzai and his accompanying team will have few things to say on the achievements in Afghanistan but will ask for further helps. Officially, the Afghanistan conference set to kick off in Bonn on Monday is, according to the German Foreign Ministry website, intended to "solidify together with Afghanistan the long-term engagement of the international community and to advance the political process in the country."

Unofficially, however, many see the gathering, which will bring Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai together with NATO foreign ministers, as but a prelude to withdrawal. US President Barack Obama has begun the American drawdown and has said it will be completed by 2014.

His NATO allies, including Germany, have followed suit. Acknowledging the steps taken to accomplish the mission, it should never be forgotten that Afghanistan was not supposed to stay at this point a decade after the bloody struggles. Neither Karzai's administration nor the international community could maintain strategic thinking and precise applications on the way to rebuild Afghanistan and ensure peace and stability in the war-ravaged heart of Asia.

Short term remedies, wavering decisions and approaches and lack of the required level of coordination among national and international stakeholders leave the country suffering from the same troubles that suppressed Afghans a decade ago. The government continues asking for aids when the amount spent so far remains unaccounted for.

Afghan finance minister said on Saturday Afghanistan's international backers must not cut funding to Kabul to the degree that it forces the government to choose between spending less on security or development.

Asking Kabul to cut spending on security forces would risk allowing the Taliban-led insurgents to make a comeback, while if services such as health and education were reduced instead, that could indirectly bolster support for the insurgency. "What they are saying is, these are not options that the Afghan government should be pushed into, we have to know the consequences of pushing the government into these choices," Zakhilwal said.

In addition to that, the international partners express doubt over a successful transition of power to the Afghan forces. There have been avert and covert discussions and intelligence reports saying that the Afghan forces will not have able capacity to address increasing challenges posed by growing militancy and the enhanced regional interferences.

A German daily revealed a secret document prepared by German and US intelligence networks fearing a civil war in Afghanistan following withdrawal of international forces by 2014. The fear and concern exist beyond their official promising statements over changes in Afghanistan and the hoped successful transition process.

The fear indicates current and potential threats going to counteract achievements made so far. NATO has referred to the transition process as a handover of security responsibility to Afghanistan. But a report in the German tabloid Bild on Friday, citing secret US military intelligence documents as well as confidential German military documents, indicates that military officials in both countries believe that civil war in Afghanistan will be the result.

The paper quotes what it describes as a secret, collaborative appraisal by the US and German militaries as saying: "When the ISAF troops leave the country, there will be civil war." The paper says that once withdrawal is complete, leaders of the insurgency, who are currently in Pakistan, "will return to Afghanistan."

While it is certainly no secret that the situation in Afghanistan remains far from stable, the pessimism displayed in the secret documents stands in stark contrast with the message political leaders have been eager to convey. Just in June, when Obama announced the beginning of the US drawdown, he said that troop reduction had become possible because "we are meeting our goals."

But indications suggest that the battle is far from over. Many NATO military experts have asserted the idea. General Stanley McChrystal, who led the Afghanistan troop increase ordered by Obama in 2009, likewise voiced his doubts this autumn. He said that the US and NATO were only "50 percent of the way" toward achieving the goals they had set for themselves.

Unfulfilled commitments come in addition to increasing instability in the region and decreasing cooperation and help from Afghanistan's neighboring countries. Boycotting the Conference, Afghanistan's strategic neighbor Pakistan cast doubt if the process will succeed without their help and determination.

No longer ambiguous, Pakistan's assistance to the peace building process and national reconciliation remains essential in Afghanistan. The country's boycott will ultimately affect the result of the discussions and the process of cooperation.

The battle records show that Pakistan's role in fight against terrorism remains highly substantial. For that, the Afghan diplomatic channels tried their best to convince the Pakistani government to take part in the meeting that will, more or less, defines the future of Afghanistan aligned with that of Pakistan.

The subject of war on terror in Pakistan is getting more significant as endeavors in Afghanistan have failed to a large extent to defeat terrorism. For sure, Afghanistan top priority in Bonn discussions will include security and the future of fight against terrorism.

Without Pakistan, the war will produce very little results. On the other hand, Afghan government's failure to perform its duties over the past decade has cast doubt over coming leadership period by Afghans. Longer time and more resources will be required to run the fragile state and carry out the failing plans. Looking at that, the Bonn Conference II will have more challenges to address and little is expected to come out of the meeting.

Nasrudding Hemati is the permanent writer of Daily Outlook Afghanistan and Writes on National and International issues. He can be reached through mail@outlookafghanistan.com

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